Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is proposing a health care plan he says will ensure coverage for all Americans up to age 25 and ensure most uninsured adults get health care benefits. Dean’s proposal is similar to what he enacted while he was Vermont’s Governor, and he says it’s worked in his state.Dean says 96 percent of all of Vermont’s kids have health insurance and 92 percent of all adults are covered. Dean proposes an expansion of existing government health care programs rather than creation of a whole new system for covering the uninsured. Dean, who is a doctor, says it’s not very expensive — about 90 billion dollars a year, covers everybody and lets folks keep their private insurance and their own doctor. Dean says he’s not opposed to a government-run system, but he says one would never pass Congress. He says that’s why he’s proposing an expansion of current programs, similar to the tack he took in Vermont. Critics say Dean’s proposal would encourage companies to stop offering health care coverage for their employees, but he rejects that idea Dean says there’s a six-month waiting period before one could get onto a government-paid health care program, and he says not many “responsible businesses” would let their employees go without health care coverage for half a year. Health care costs and ideas for covering the uninsured have become major campaign issues in the nine-way race for the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nomination. Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt has proposed legislation that would require businesses to provide health care insurance for workers and provide a tax credit for businesses worth 60 percent of insurance premium costs. On Thursday, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will unveil his health care plan during a speech in Des Moines.
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