From NBC/NJ's Tricia Miller
DES MOINES, IA -- Citing "very substantive policy differences" between his health care mandate and those of his leading opponents, Edwards began a press conference by reiterating his charge that Obama's health care plan is "not universal." Obama has been facing off with Clinton over their health care mandates the last few days.
"[Sen. Obama's health-care plan] does not require that everyone be covered," Edwards said, "and as many as 15 million Americans would be without coverage. And I've seen an estimate that up to 90,000 Iowans would be without coverage."
The former North Carolina senator also continued to differ with Clinton on the issue, largely repeating his campaign's charge from yesterday. "Sen. Clinton's plan, which came out in September, is very similar to mine that came out in February. But I have not seen any specifics about how her mandate would work or how she would enforce her mandate," he said. "I've laid out exactly how my mandate would work and we have a way to make sure it's enforced."
Edwards said that in his plan, subsidies would be available to help low-earning families. "The fundamental structure of the plan provides subsidies and the subsidies go up to about $100,000 of income. So for lower-income families, they will be basically 100% subsidized, and the subsidy decreases as they go up toward $100,000 of income, so that's how they afford it. The way we bring people into the system is anytime they have contact with the health care system or the government they get enrolled, basically."
Edwards' media avail on health care followed his address at a meeting of the Iowa State Association of Counties. He released a list of 52 county elected officials from 37 counties who endorsed him ,and spoke to the audience about forging a "new partnership with local communities." Highlighted at the meeting were proposals to invest in rural economies, help local governments by using the federal government's power to negotiate prices for what they need, and ensure that federal funding for transportation is sufficient.
Edwards was the last presidential candidate to speak at the meeting. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd spoke to the group yesterday morning.