In a statement released today, Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich criticized the healthcare plans of top tier Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. “There isn’t one iota’s difference between the plans put forward by Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and former Senator Edwards because they all keep the for-profit health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies in control of the health care system,” Kucinich said.

“The only thing ‘universal’ about their plans is that they universally fail to address the real reason 47 million Americans are uninsured and another 50 million are under-insured: for-profit insurance companies get rich by gouging people and by not paying for health care. If you don’t have the courage to take on the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, don’t try to fool t he American people by pretending to offer real reform. The Clinton, Obama, and Edwards plans will ensure that for-profit companies remain in control, and they will be rewarded and enriched with federal subsidies to reduce the prices they charge. Instead of gouging the consumers, they’ll be gouging the taxpayers.”

Kucinich also objects to the idea of mandating to every American that they have to buy health insurance coverage. “These candidates want to force individual citizens and employers to buy health insurance, using the promise of tax credits to make the coercion more palatable. We shouldn’t be mandating that people buy private coverage, we should be guaranteeing coverage for our citizens like other enlightened industrialized nations do.”

Kucinich pointed out that Americans spend more than $2 trillion a year on health care, with $600 billion of this amount being used for items unrelated to health care like profits, executive compensation, and advertising. “Take that money out of the pockets of the for-profit companies and put it into providing a national health care plan that covers everyone for everything,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich charged Clinton, Obama, and Edwards of engaging in a “phony debate” on healthcare. “If they’re afraid of offending their campaign contributors from the for-profit health care industry, or they’re concerned about whatever personal investments they have in that industry, they should be honest about it and just say so. I can’t be bought, and I can’t be bossed, and that’s why I’m the only candidate willing and eager to challenge the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. The sooner we get the profit out of the system, the sooner every American can have access to comprehensive health care. It’s a right, and this nation has a moral and social responsibility to provide it.”

I think Kucinich is correct on one huge point. None of three proposed plans contains a reasonable proposal for insuring the 47 million Americans who currently lack health insurance. Edwards would gut the entire current system. Obama’s plan focuses on making health insurance more affordable for those who already have it, and the Clinton plan would give the uninsured tax credits and make them buy their own insurance. All three of these plans are deeply flawed because they ignore the basic problem of accessibility to the healthcare system. The Kucinich plan is too liberal to pass Congress and would cost a fortune, but at least he is willing to advance an honest solution.

Unlike Clinton, Kucinich isn’t pretending to advance reform while creating a profit windfall for the insurance companies. I really don’t think the healthcare problem is a matter of a broken system. The system is fine. The problem is that not everyone has access to it. At least, under the Kucinich plan everyone would have access to health care. Money would no longer be a barrier. The healthcare system isn’t broken, but the current system has created an economic barrier to entry. Whether you agree or disagree, Dennis Kucinich is trying to advance an agenda of real change.

Kucinich statement.

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.

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