Clark Proposes Universal Health Care for Kids

Wesley Clark (search) says his health care plan is based on a lesson he learned from 34 years in the military - those who don't have adequate medical attention won't live up to their abilities.

The retired Army general says if elected president, he would look to spend $695 billion over 10 years to ensure all American children get health insurance (search) and expand access for coverage to adults.

Like the plan offered by his rival John Edwards (search), Clark would make it law that parents get health insurance for their children. All families making up to five times the poverty limit would be eligible for a tax credit that could help them pay for their children's health care, either through their employer or a government plan.

Clark said he also would give financial assistance to those who need help to buy insurance, provide incentives for disease prevention and seek to cut costs with better efficiency.

Some of Clark's rivals - including Dick Gephardt (search), John Kerry (search), Howard Dean (search) and Dennis Kucinich (search) -- are offering plans that aim to cover nearly all Americans.

Clark is joining Edwards and Joe Lieberman (search) in proposing alternatives that make more modest increases in coverage, but at a lower cost. Clark says he would pay for his plan by raising taxes on Americans who make more than $200,000 a year to bring back the revenue lost in President Bush's tax cuts (search).

In a speech prepared for delivery Tuesday at the University of New Hampshire, Clark tells about his own experience with the health care system after being shot by a sniper in Vietnam (search). Clark said he was hit four times and then underwent surgery and endured months of painful rehabilitation. The Army provided for all of his medical needs - "right down to the rubber ball I squeezed for nearly a year to build strength in my hand," he said.

"The reason we had such good health care is because the Army understood that without adequate health care, our soldiers could not do their jobs," Clark said. "It seems to me that just as our soldiers can't do their jobs without adequate health care, our families shouldn't be expected to do their best jobs without adequate health care, either."