TAMPA - Republican John McCain wants to change how people get their health insurance, shifting away from job-based coverage to an open market where people can choose from competing policies.
McCain said yesterday that he would offer families a $5,000 tax credit to help buy insurance policies. Everyone would get the credit, whether he or she keeps a policy through an employer or shops for a new one. "The health plan you chose would be as good as any that an employer could choose for you. It would be yours and your family's healthcare plan, and yours to keep," he said.
Democrats, however, say it could leave sicker or older people without coverage as younger, healthier workers leave employer-based plans for less expensive ones; McCain's campaign says there would be a safety net to protect high-risk people.
Hillary Clinton said that under McCain's plan, millions of Americans would lose their healthcare coverage through their jobs.
Under McCain's plan, anyone could get the credit, and those who like their company healthcare plans could choose to stay in them. To pay for the tax credit, McCain would eliminate the tax exemption for people whose employers pay a portion of their coverage, raising an estimated $3.6 trillion in revenues, advisers said.
Yesterday, McCain also unveiled a TV ad on healthcare in the key swing state of Iowa.
"The problem with healthcare in America is not the quality of healthcare - it's the availability and the affordability. And that has to do with the dramatic increase in the cost of healthcare," McCain says directly to the camera.
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Mike Easley highlighted Clinton's arguments that she can bring change, not just talk about it, and that she's tough enough to take on the Republicans in the fall.
"There's a lot of 'Yes we can' and 'Yes we should' around," Easley said. "Hillary Clinton can deliver immediately. That's the difference."
Easley added that while many voters have called him persistent, Clinton "makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy."
Easley, a popular two-term governor, is a conservative Democrat and former law-and-order local prosecutor who hails from eastern North Carolina - the small towns and rural areas where Clinton needs to do very well in Tuesday's primary to at least hold down Obama's margin in a state he is heavily favored to win.
Easley was the biggest name among superdelegate endorsements yesterday - two each for Clinton and Obama.
Clinton also picked up the support of Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri.
Richard Machaceck, a Democratic National Committee member from Iowa, declared for Obama after the Illinois senator won 16 of the 29 national convention delegates at stake in congressional district conventions over the weekend. And US Representative Ben Chandler of Kentucky announced his support for Obama as well.
Obama continues to eat away at Clinton's lead among the elected officials and party leaders who are likely to determine the Democratic nominee. Fewer than 300 of the nearly 800 superdelegates have yet to declare their preference. Obama leads in total delegates and the popular vote.
But Hillary Clinton is trying to blunt that edge with a new TV ad yesterday that highlights her childhood in suburban Chicago with a series of black-and-white family snapshots. She also promises to bring Midwestern values to the White House.
"My father served in the Navy and ran a small business. My mother taught Sunday school and took care of us. I come from Park Ridge, Ill., benefiting from all their hard work and sacrifice," Clinton says in the ad.
"I carry with me not just their dreams but the dreams of people like them all across our country, people who embrace hard work and opportunity, who never waiver in the face of adversity, who never stop believing in the promise of America. It's a promise I intend to keep."
Also, a political advocacy group consisting of Clinton backers began spending at least $700,000 yesterday in an Indiana advertising blitz faulting Obama for not offering more details on his plan to turn around the economy.
The Indiana ad campaign would be the biggest single expenditure in a state for the mostly union-financed group, called the American Leadership Project.
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