Clinton Skirts Health Cap Details

By Lindsay Hamilton

Dec 1, 2007 2:59pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis, Eloise Harper, and Jacqueline Klingebiel Report: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is facing new scrutiny for skirting details on her proposal to cap personal health-care costs.

The former first lady has sought to assuage concern about her proposal that all Americans carry health insurance by telling voters that she, unlike her top Democratic rivals, would cap an individual’s health-care costs at a certain percentage of income.

But when challenged Friday on a conference call with reporters to specify what share of income is reasonable for Americans to have to devote to health care to satisfy the individual mandate, Clinton’s policy director avoided directly answering the question.

Neera Tanden, Clinton’s policy director, said the premium cap separates Clinton from Democratic rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards.

"We are different from every other person in this race by specifying that we would ensure that health care is never more than a certain percentage of income," said Tanden. "We do that because we are precisely concerned about the problem of affordability. We have an individual mandate; we understand that can create a burden on certain families. So that is why we specify that we will not provide, that no one would ever have to do more than a certain percentage of income."

She would not, however, say what share of income is reasonable for Americans to pay. 

Ron Brownstein, the political director of Atlantic Media, called Clinton out on her evasiveness, saying, "How can people possibly judge whether an individual mandate is a good deal for them if they don’t know whether you are going to be asking them whether to spend 5, 10, or 20 percent of their income on premiums?"

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