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Elizabeth Edwards Speaks To College Students On Health Care

This story was written by Laura Barnes, The Duke Chronicle

With millions of Americans lacking health insurance, healthcare reform has emerged as an important issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards and a cancer patient, and campaign representatives for Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama held a conference call Thursday advocating Obama's healthcare plan. The conference call was specifically held for college students across the United States.

Addressing her audience, Edwards stressed that young adults are the fastest growing group without health insurance.

"Obama's plan enables young adults to get their own affordable coverage through the National [Health] Insurance Exchange," said Edwards. She said a national health insurance exchange would direct those seeking private insurance to competent insurers. The benefits provided by insurers reflect those provided by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, the plan held by members of Congress.

Obama's plan also would require employers to either contribute to their employees' health coverage or give a percentage of their payroll toward the national plan, according to the campaign Web site.

The healthcare plan of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, however, emphasizes purchasing insurance in the private market, according to his campaign Web site. He advocates refundable tax credits, health savings accounts and high-deductible healthcare plans. All of these methods would make insurance purchasing an individual responsibility, the site suggests.

When asked by a caller to compare and contrast her battle with cancer under the current and potential plans, Edwards estimated that under the current healthcare system, her treatment plan costs approximately $24,000 annually.

"The differences cannot be starker [between the two proposed plans]," said an Obama campaign representative.

Edwards said under Obama's plan, she would get affordable coverage, whereas under the McCain plan her treatment might cost less, but would still be high for the average citizen.

"McCain's plan is extremely dangerous. Obama's is very forward-looking," said Edwards to close the call.

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