WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said Sunday his plan for universal health care would require higher taxes and cost up to $120 billion a year.
"We're asking everybody to share in the responsibility of making health care work in this country," the 2004 vice presidential nominee said.
"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 his plan would aim to provide health care coverage for the 47 million people who currently lack it and reduce the cost of health care coverage for middle-class families, partly by making health care programs more efficient.
Edwards cited health care insurance premiums that have risen 90 percent over the past decade.
"Here's the bottom line: We want to make sure everybody's covered. We want to help middle-class families with the cost. We want to try to create competition that doesn't exist today," Edwards said.
To accomplish all this, Edwards said he would expand Medicaid and a program that now provides coverage to 6 million people, mostly children, and 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 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, emphasizing that voters should reward a politician who openly admits past mistakes.
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.
Edwards appeared on "Meet the Press" on NBC.