By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers Posted on Wednesday, November 28, 2007
WASHINGTON — Even before Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton unveiled her new health-care plan, Republicans attacked it as socialized medicine. They neglected to mention, however, that her plan bears a striking resemblance to changes that were proposed in 1974 — by the late President Richard M. Nixon.
“It was an extremely extensive plan, as I remember, that would have given universal coverage” for health care, recalled Rudolph Penner, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and economic official in the Ford administration.
Nixon introduced his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on Feb. 6, 1974, days after he used what would be his final State of the Union address to call for universal access to health insurance.
“I shall propose a sweeping new program that will assure comprehensive health-insurance protection to millions of Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it, with vastly improved protection against catastrophic illnesses,” he told America.
Nixon said his plan would build on existing employer-sponsored insurance plans and would provide government subsidies to the self-employed and small businesses to ensure universal access to health insurance. He said it wouldn’t create a new federal bureaucracy.
The Nixon plan won support from a Time magazine editorial on Feb. 18, 1974, which noted that “more and more Americans have been insisting that national health insurance is an idea whose tune (sic) has come.”
Fast-forward 33 years to the American Health Choices Plan, which Clinton outlined Sept. 17, and to similar plans by Democratic rivals Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
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