BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Former President Gerald Ford said Wednesday 'the country will go broke' if the nationwide health insurance plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis is enacted.
'He tells what the plan would do but doesn't tell how that would be financed,' Ford said after a speech to Vermont Republicans.
'That's a big omission.'
Tuesday, Dukakis unveiled the sweeping proposal to require all employers -- with some exceptions for small businesses -- to provide health insurance to 22 million of the estimated 37 million Americans now uninsured, most working in the fast food services and retail store industries and on farms.
The Dukakis campaign said that under the plan, the government would lose about $5 billion in tax revenue as a result of new deductions by employers for health premium payments, but the loss would be offset by savings of $5.1 billion in reduced spending for Medicare for the elderly, Medicaid and military health programs.
But Ford said of the proposal, 'The country will go broke, because I understand in Massachusetts, it's been a financial disaster.' Dukakis, as governor of Massachusetts, has signed into law a similar broad-based insurance program for Bay State residents.
Andre Oliver, Dukakis's Vermont campaign director, disputed Ford's claims, saying the plan will save America health care dollars in the long run.
'This is a preventive measure,' Oliver said. 'Obviously, the Republicans only tend to look at problems when they arise.'