Discuss as:

Obama plan 'virtually' universal

From WHO-TV's Dave Price
Illinois Senator Barack Obama, a Democratic candidate for President, chose the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City to unveil his plan to make sure all Americans have health care. Pledging universal health care has been one of the most-spoken promises from some of the Democrats during their stops in Iowa. During his speech, Obama said, "I will sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of my first term in office." But after his speech today, Obama told me his plan really isn't "universal." He said it's "virtually universal."

His plan doesn't mandate coverage, except for children. Uninsured adults are encouraged to participate, so are small businesses. But no one is forced to participate. Obama says people will want to take part in this, though. He believes people will sign up for the plan, since coverage will be far cheaper. And businesses, he says, when it comes down to it, want to be able to offer health insurance. They just haven't been able to afford it in the past.

Obama told me rolling back President George W. Bush's tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans will provide most of the money to make his plan work. The rest of the savings will come from switching to electronic record-keeping (although, there are obvious start up costs for that), as well as reduced bills for emergency room visits, because people, in theory, would take better care of themselves since they have access to health care.

The feds would also pick up the cost of the most expensive illnesses and conditions. That will lower annual premiums overall for families, Obama said, by up to $2,500.