Hillary's Health Care Plan: Universal?

2008 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., clarified this morning that her proposed plan for universal health care would not cover illegal immigrants.

"No, they would not be covered," she said on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"I will continue to have a safety net, which I think is in the best traditions of our country and, also, for public health reasons, absolutely necessary," Clinton said, "but we did not cover them in '93-'94 and my plan does not cover them now."

Earlier in the week, Clinton's top health care adviser said the senator had not yet decided whether her plan would cover illegal immigrants. Clinton, who initially pushed for national health care as first lady in 1994, announced her American Health Choices Plan on Monday.

"I've taken a lot of the good ideas that are not all mine, by many means, but [these] are ideas that have been percolating since '93-'94, and I believe that we can put together a consensus to achieve the goal that many of us share," she said.

The senator has admitted her attempt to pass universal coverage during her husband's presidency was a failure, but insisted she is ready to try anew.

"I think we've all learned a lot since then and my goal has remained the same," she said. "I believe, for the sake of our country, it's an economic necessity to have health care for everyone that is quality and affordable."

But not everyone agrees that Clinton's previous experience should be seen as an asset. The senator has received criticism from both sides of the political aisle this week. Many of her Democratic rivals -- including Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., John Edwards, and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. -- are urging the country to choose a president who can make a fresh start on health care reform.

Clinton defended her record, saying that "the country bears the scars" from 1994.

"I think that what is so uniquely American about the American experience is that, you know, you get knocked down, you get back," she said. "I've learned a lot and I think I now know better how to do what-- There is a consensus-building that we must do."

Clinton also responded to on a new ad put out by Republican candidate Fred Thompson in which he pokes fun at Clinton's plan for requiring individuals to buy their own health insurance.

"I'm waiting for any Republican candidate to come out with a plan that can be really scrutinized, that we can ask hard questions about," she said. "It seems as though they're in the 'just say no' category, and I don't think that's good for the country."