Clinton debuts new health plan
Democratic Presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. arrives to speak at the International Association of Firefighters Bipartisan 2008 Presidential Forum in Washington, Wednesday, March 14, 2007. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Hillary Clinton (D) Senator, New York
Born: 10/26/1947
Birthplace: Chicago, IL
Home: Chappaqua, NY
Religion: Methodist
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Sen. Hillary Clinton submitted a bill on Wednesday that aims to provide health coverage to all uninsured children.

Co-sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the Children's Health First Act would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, known as SCHIP. While Clinton commended New Hampshire for its work providing children with health insurance, about 6.6 percent, or 20,000 state children, are still uninsured.

Clinton's plan would create federal incentives to encourage states to raise the income requirement into the SCHIP program to 400 percent above the poverty level, which would equal an income of about $70,000 for family of three. New Hampshire today provides insurance for children in families up to 300 percent above the poverty limit, or an income of $49,800 for a family of three.

The bill authorizes money for outreach to identify children who are eligible but have yet to apply and would allow families and employers to buy their own coverage through the SCHIP program, estimated to cost about $1,200 per child each year. Employers that insure their employees' children through the program would also receive subsidies up to 50 percent of the cost of insuring each child.

Clinton said this is part of a larger, universal health care plan she will unveil at a later date. She chose the child health care bill, she said, because it is a popular issue and wanted to focus on a health care proposal that could pass the House and Senate.

"This has practically unanimous support across the country," she said.

Clinton's plan is also in opposition to President Bush's proposal to cut the income limit to no more than 200 percent above the poverty line. According to Tricia Brooks, president and chief executive officer of Healthy Kids, which administers the SCHIP Program, 6,000 children would no longer be eligible under Bush's plan.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has also introduced a health care plan, but unlike Clinton, he opted to unveil it all at once. It would include creating "regional health markets" that would allow people who buy their own insurance to join together and increase their bargaining power for lower rates.

"The most important thing about Senator Edwards' plan is that it is a truly universal plan," said Kate Bedingfield, spokeswoman for his campaign.

"He feels that the number of uninsured Americans is one of the greatest problems our country is facing," Bedingfield added.