U.S. Representative and 2004 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich promoted a plan to create a universal health care system at Wednesday's Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, said the bill he sponsored with Reps. John Conyers, D-Michigan, and James McDermott, D-Washington, would create a universal, single-payer nonprofit Medicare system.
"Something is wrong in America when you can work a lifetime, build a nest egg and have it wiped out with one illness in the family," Kucinich said.
The bill, called the U.S. National Health Insurance Act (HR 676), would stop a condition in this country where people are losing everything they have, he said.
"Insurance companies and health care companies have a death grip on our politics," he said.
If passed, Kucinich said the government would set up a nonprofit organization to run the nation's health care system. All the bills would be paid by the federal government, he said.
In an interview, he said he thinks it is inevitable that a new health care system will be set up in this country.
"The public is demanding it," he said.
This is a unique issue because it affects every person in this society, he said.
According to Kucinich's Web site, there are about 44 million Americans without health insurance, 40 million without health insurance part of the year and 80 million who are partially covered.
Kucinich said he is on a four state tour Alaska, New Mexico, Washington and Oregon to thank the people who supported him in the last presidential campaign. He added he wants to continue to be involved nationally and to promote ideas that affect his constituents and the entire country.
He said he paid for this trip with his own money not taxpayers'.
When asked if he is planning another run for the presidency, he said, "I don't need a presidential campaign to talk about health care.
"I'm building national support for these ideas and policies and programs."
He did not say if he was planning on running for president again.
Kucinich's health care proposal generated a number of questions from the audience.
Jason Carroll, branch manager with First National Bank, asked if the plan also would cover illegal aliens.
"We shouldn't be paying for anybody else's (health care)," Carroll said.
Kucinich said it would cover illegal aliens, but that this is a side issue distracting from the conversation.
"Take that part out of your bill," Carroll responded.
Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, asked what the premiums are on the program.
Kucinich said there would be no premiums.
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