Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards wants to provide health care coverage for the 47 million people who currently lack it and reduce the cost of coverage for middle-class families.
The plan could cost up to $120 billion a year, and the candidate acknowledged it would require higher taxes.
"The bottom line is we're asking everybody to share in the responsibility of making health care work in this country. Employers, those who are in the medical insurance business, employees, the American people - everyone will have to contribute in order to make this work," the 2004 vice presidential nominee said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Yes, we'll have to raise taxes. The only way you can pay for a health care plan that costs anywhere from $90 (billion) to $120 billion is there has to be a revenue source," the former North Carolina senator said.
Edwards said health care insurance premiums have risen 90 percent over the past decade.
"We want to make sure everybody's covered. We want to help middle-class families with the costs. We want to try to create competition that doesn't exist today," he said.
To accomplish all this, Edwards said he would expand Medicaid as well as a program that now provides coverage to 6 million people, mostly children. He would also provide federal health care subsidies. He said he wants employers to play a bigger role, either by offering coverage or buying into "health markets" that would include a government plan.
Edwards said he would free up money for health care coverage by abolishing President Bush's tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 a year and by having the government collect more back taxes.
On the war in Iraq, Edwards sought to distinguish himself from one of the Democratic front-runners, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Edwards, who served on the Senate's intelligence committee, repeated earlier statements that his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq was a mistake.
"My vote was wrong and I take responsibility for it," said Edwards.
Clinton, who also voted to authorize force, has said "there are no do-overs in life." She says Congress received bad information from the Bush administration going into the vote and she would have voted differently given what she knows now.
"If she believes that her vote was wrong, then yes, she should say so," Edwards said. "If she believes that her vote was right, then she should defend it."