From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum and Liberty Matias
At the Kaiser Family Foundation's Healthcare Forum, Kucinich laid out his single-payer health-care plan while attacking Clinton and Edwards for paying too much attention to insurance companies and not American people. "There is no difference between Senator Clinton, Senator Edwards, and Mitt Romney," he said, accusing the media of not exposing how similar each of their plans is.
Under Kucinich's plan, a person can choose a physician of his or her choice to get the care they need by simply presenting a card after signing an application. Kucinich said this would work because the doctor does not have to go through an insurance company. He plans to finance the program through payroll taxes. The federal government would buy out for-profit companies with treasury bonds.
Kucinich accused Clinton and Edwards of having a debate on insurance care and not health insurance for the people. "When I run for President of the United States," Kucinich said, "I cannot be bought or bossed by any interest group. The government's inability to function is because it is influenced by interest groups. I've been doing this for 40 years. Government works. The question is who is working for -- insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies. When I'm President of the United States, it will work for the people."
In response to a question on how a government-run health-care program could work, Kucinich discussed social security -- "a government retirement system" -- Medicare -- "that's government financed" -- and taxes that lead to local government services such as police, fire, street repair, and street cleaning. "Is healthcare a right or a privilege," Kucinich asked. "If it's a right, then it's appropriate for government to have a role."
Kucinich said health care cannot be viewed in a vacuum and one must look at budgets for all federal programs when discussing healthcare. During a heated statement on the Iran War, the panelists attempted to bring the congressman back to the topic. "I'm your guest," Kucinich said, "but I want to tell you something. Asking how I'm going to fund the NIH, well, the president has to decide budget decisions … You stop spending money for the Pentagon and war build up and put money into healthcare, education, housing, job creation and rebuilding the infrastructure."
Kucinich said his plan would "cover everyone in the United States." Last week, Clinton addressed the organization and said illegal immigrants would not be covered under her health-care plan.
The panelists interrupted Kucinich at least four times trying to get him to answer questions the way they wanted them to be answered. In contrast, Clinton was not interrupted at all when she participated in the forum last week.