Insurance companies should face the same kind of federal regulation as firms that sell stocks and bonds, Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday as she outlined her health care plan to voters around a dining room table.
The patchwork of state regulation that insurers now operate under has allowed them to get away with offering meager health care policies and to move to states with more favorable rules, Clinton said. She said the federal government should regulate the companies more, though states still would be able to enact their own rules.
"We can't do this state by state," she said. "No state has the ability to get everyone in their state to get the insurance they need."
The Republican National Committee was quick to react to Clinton's remarks.
"If there's one thing voters can count on when it comes to Hillary Clinton's proposals, it's that she's always in favor of more Washington, D.C., regulation and bureaucracy," said Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman.
With about two dozen reporters crammed in another room, Clinton outlined her universal health care plan, which would provide tax credits to make insurance more affordable and require businesses to offer insurance to workers or pay into a pool for people without it. The New York senator and presidential hopeful also would expand Medicare and the federal employees' health insurance plan to cover those without adequate workplace insurance.
Clinton's host was Judy Lanza, a nurse who said it was only because of her medical background that she noticed a $4,000 mistake in her husband's surgery bill last year. They fought the insurance company, she said, but she worries about others who wouldn't know where to turn.
"I feel bad for the people out there who have no health care background," she said.
Clinton repeated a statistic she cites often _ contending that insurance companies spend $50 billion a year figuring out ways to avoid paying claims.
"This is all part of their business model. This is how they make money, but it's so bad for the rest of us," she said. "I say to them, use the $50 billion to actually take care of people," she said.
Suzanne Blanchfield, a 59-year-old teacher who has diabetes, said she has good health insurance that reimburses her well for taking steps to prevent her disease from worsening. But she said she is concerned about losing that insurance when she retires.
"I'll have a pension, but a pension only goes so far," she said.
Clinton said Blanchfield's situation illustrates the need to ensure health insurance plans are portable rather than dependent on someone's job situation.
Earlier Monday, Clinton was endorsed by Dr. Susan Lynch, a pediatrician who is married to New Hampshire's Democratic governor.
Lynch, a childhood obesity activist, said Clinton's commitment to fighting for children and families help make her the best choice for Democrats and the country. Lynch will be a national co-chairwoman of Clinton's presidential campaign.
"I have personally gotten to know Hillary. As I watch and listen to her campaigning across New Hampshire, I see a candidate who has the right experience, commitment to bipartisanship and a passion to lead," she said, standing next to Clinton at a news conference in Concord.
Lynch works at Concord Hospital in a program to control cholesterol in children. In 2004, she was a member of "Doctors for Dean," which supported former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean for president.
A spokesman for Gov. John Lynch said the governor will remain neutral.