Edwards threatens to withhold health care from Congress

In one of Sen. John Edwards‘s (D-NC) most recent television ads, the presidential candidate threatens to withhold health-care coverage from members of Congress if they do not pass a health-care reform plan by July 2009.

The text of the ad:

  • “When I’m president I’m going to say to members of Congress and members of my administration, including my cabinet: I’m glad that you have health care coverage and your family has health care coverage. But if you don’t pass universal health care by July of 2009 – in six months – I’m going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you. [Applause] There’s no excuse for politicians in Washington having health care when you don’t have health care. I’m John Edwards and I approve this message.”

According to blogger Corinne Ramey, whose site, “DMIBlog: Politics, policy and the American Dream” opined on the ad, Edwards would actually have that power if elected president.

Details of Edwards’s plan: (as explained by Ramey)

  • The plan calls for expanding both public and private insurance, and will require every American to have coverage. Universality would be “enforced” by checking insurance at schools, hospitals, clinics and other locations. Premiums could also be collected through the tax system, and people could be enrolled in a default plan if necessary.
  • Edwards plans to expand SCHIP and Medicaid to cover all adults under the poverty line and all families under 250% of the poverty line.
  • Employers will be forced to either provide health care for their employees or pay into an insurance fund.
  • Edwards will also regulate private insurers, forcing them to charge fair premiums regardless of preexisting condition like medical history, job type, or age.
  • “No longer will insurance companies be able to game the system to cover only healthy people,” his health care policy states.

The main difference between Edwards’s plan and other Dems:

  • “Heath Care Markets,” which are basically an experiment between private insurance companies and a public plan; individuals would be able to choose which works best for them and their familes
    • These Health Care Markets will reward the sector which provides the best care at the best price, and may eventually lead toward a single-payer system if that’s what families and businesses want.

Drastic, but it could work:

I think it sounds like a great way to get Congress to actually do something useful. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.


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