Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Senator wants universal health care plan"

Several business and labor leaders on Wednesday hailed a proposal to provide health care coverage to all Americans through a pool of private insurance plans.

A dozen years after Congress rejected a Clinton administration plan for universal health care, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden offered a plan he said would provide affordable, private health care coverage for all Americans, except those covered through Medicare or the military.

"Employer-based coverage is melting away like a Popsicle on the sidewalk in August," Wyden said.

Wyden, a Democrat and a member of the Senate Finance health care subcommittee, said his plan would "guarantee health coverage for every American that is at least as good as members of Congress receive and can never be taken away."

The plan, dubbed the "Healthy Americans Act," would provide universal coverage for no more money than the country spends on health insurance today, Wyden said.

Wyden, a veteran of the 1990s health care battle, drew support from groups that have frequently opposed each other, including Andy Stern, international president of the Service Employees International Union, and Safeway Inc. CEO Steve Burd.

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