Obama Ready to Get Specific on Health Care

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., is ready to get specific on health care, two months after he drew criticism at a health care forum in Nevada where he appeared less conversant than some of his rivals with the details of health care policy.

The Democratic presidential hopeful will unveil his health care plan at a midmorning event Tuesday, May 29, in Iowa City, Iowa, an Obama campaign aide told ABC News.

Everywhere Obama goes, he promises to achieve universal health insurance by the end of his first term as president.

But he has not yet filled in all the details on how he would get there.

Asked by ABC News Monday what Obama's health care plan would include, Obama policy director Karen Kornbluh pointed to the April 26 Democratic presidential debate in which Obama endorsed the following three points: (1) a national pool that people can buy in to if they don't have health insurance, with subsidies going to those who can't afford the group rates; (2) more preventive care and better technology to reduce paperwork and control costs; and (3) catastrophic insurance to help businesses and families avoid bankruptcy and reduce premiums.

Kornbluh would not say whether Obama's plan would include a requirement on individuals or employers to purchase health insurance, steps that some health economists see as necessary for achieving Obama's goal of universal coverage.

Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards became the first top-tier Democratic presidential candidate to unveil a specific health care plan back in February.

Since unveiling his plan, the Democratic Party's 2004 vice presidential nominee has pressured his rivals to offer plans of their own.

"Rhetoric's not enough," Edwards said at last month's debate in a thinly veiled shot at Obama. "High-falutin' language is not enough. And my plan would require employers to cover all their employees or pay into a fund that covers the cracks in the health care system …"

Earlier this month, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., told National Journal magazine that Edwards' health care plan is a "variation" of what she proposed in 1993 and 1994.

She said, however, that she had not yet proposed a specific health care plan during her presidential bid because she learned through her failed effort to reform health care in the 1990s that one must first build a political consensus.

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