Clinton: Health Care to Remain Same for Most

TIMES STAFF WRITER

President Clinton reassured a national radio audience Saturday that for the average American, his health care reform plan means remarkably little change--except to guarantee the security of their medical benefits.

Most people will keep their own doctors and pay the same or slightly less for their health insurance, he said.

"Nine of 10 of you who have private health care coverage now get it through the place you work. In the future, you will do it just like you do now," the President said in his weekly radio address.

"Under our health care plan, 63% would pay the same or less than you do today for benefits that are the same or greater, including the right to choose your doctor," he said. "If you get good health care, if you like your benefits, if your employer pays 100% of your health care costs, nothing will change."

Opinion surveys have found that most Americans are reasonably satisfied with their health care but fear rising costs and the possibility of losing their insurance.

Clinton promised that his plan would cure those problems without changing what most Americans like about their health care, including the right to choose a doctor.

"In the end, the most important thing that will change is this: Every American will get something that today no amount of money can buy--the security of health care that can never be taken away no matter what," he said.

While the President stressed the modesty of his reform plan, Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.), delivering the Republican response, said that GOP leaders on Capitol Hill agree with much of Clinton's agenda.

The Republican proposals on health care would also "guarantee universal health coverage and secure basic health benefits for every American," Bond said.

But where the Administration plan would require employers to offer health insurance and pay at least 80% of the cost, Bond said the Republicans would mandate that individuals buy their own coverage. Those who are too poor to pay would be aided by government vouchers, he said.

He derided the Clinton plan as a costly "social experiment" that would expand the size of the government and cause employers to cut their work forces.

"A plan that promises you health coverage but actually costs you your job is not reform," Bond said. "Republicans believe that health reform should cut costs, not jobs."

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