Hillary Clinton made headlines yesterday when she unveiled her new proposal for universal health care. However, as the Statesman-Journal reports, it's Oregon Senator Ron Wyden's health care plan that has been getting noticed on both sides of the aisle in the US Senate:
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the architect of a proposed health care overhaul that's quietly been attracting bipartisan support, said there's plenty to admire in the sweeping reforms rolled out Monday by Sen. Hillary Clinton, as well as some key differences with his own plan.
Wyden's proposal has been overshadowed recently by higher-profile offerings from the presidential hopefuls, including Democrats Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, and Republicans Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani.
But in an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Wyden said he is expecting more of his colleagues in the Senate to sign on as sponsors of his proposal in the coming weeks.
Already, three Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors, including Utah Sen. Robert Bennett, who helped lead he charge against Hillary Clinton's failed attempt to reform health care during her husband's presidency.
Wyden's and Clinton's plans both would provide universal healthcare, and have some notable similarities:
Wyden's plan and Clinton's share an important underpinning: Both rely on the "individual mandate" concept - the requirement that like auto insurance for drivers, health insurance would be a requirement, not a choice.
Both would use federal funds to pay for insurance coverage for individuals that couldn't afford it on their own, but don't qualify for Medicaid, which covers the poorest Americans.
Wyden and Clinton agree, too, that health insurers should not be able to cherry-pick their beneficiaries by rejecting those who have pre-existing medical conditions.
And both embrace the idea of "portability", allowing coverage to follow an individual, even from job to job.
There are also some major differences between the two proposals:
Wyden's plan, introduced late last year and dubbed the "Healthy Americans Act," would eliminate employer-provided health insurance. Instead, employees would get the equivalent of the cost of their health care plan in extra salary to pay for health care insurance from private insurers.
Wyden's proposal eliminates the $200 billion a year in employer tax deductions, and uses the savings to cover those who don't qualify for Medicaid, but don't earn enough to buy their own insurance - though it's not yet clear how comprehensive such coverage would be.
Clinton's plan in contrast, keeps the employer-provided system intact, a point she stressed repeatedly when unveiling the proposal Monday in Iowa.
Businesses would have to offer insurance, or contribute to a government-run pool to pay for those who lack it. And tax subsidies, far from being eliminated as under Wyden's plan, would be expanded for small businesses that offer health insurance for their employees.
What do you think of the two plans?