HEALTH CARE: ACCESS

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Some 37 million Americans are without health insurance. Many of the uninsured are between jobs, work part time, work for businesses too small to provide health insurance, or have existing medical conditions that make them difficult to insure. BUSH:

His plan seeks to retain the best of the American system by favoring market-driven reforms. Bush proposes to:

Offer families a $3,750 tax credit or deduction for health care. That amount currentlycovers the average cost of health insurance. Poor families would get the money in voucher form for health insurance. More affluent families would deduct that amount from their taxable income, unless they held employer-sponsored health insurance.

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Require states to offer a basic health insurance package, as an alternative to private insurance, for purchase with the tax credit. Require insurers to provide renewable health insurance to all employers who request it.

Prohibit any limits on pre-existing medical conditions, so that workers with health problems in their families would not face losing insurance when changing jobs. CLINTON:

His position is that "health care should be a right, not a privilege." To make that happen, he would:

Require employers to insure their workers. A health- standards board would set basic guaranteed benefits, to include ambulatory physician care, in-patient hospital care, prescription drugs, basic mental-health services, prenatal care, mammograms, and routine health screenings.

Guarantee private coverage for nonworkers through publicly sponsored purchasing groups. Families would pay premiums on a sliding scale based on income. Medicaid for the poor would be folded into this program.

Prohibit insurance companies from refusing to insure people with pre-existing medical conditions. Require insurers to use community ratings which spread the risks of small businesses out among all companies. PEROT:

Proposes setting a basic benefits package for universal coverage and appropriate tax treatment of health benefits. Would establish a national health board to oversee comprehensive reforms. Would ask states for comprehensive plans and allow them flexibility from federal rules for pilot programs.

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