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Penalties in Clinton Health Care Plan Scare Voters Off

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both share a passion for health care reform. The main difference between the two is what experts call "the mandate."

Will the government compel everyone to purchase insurance? Mrs. Clinton answers yes. Her plan mandates that every American must have health insurance — through employers, the government or a private plan. Mr. Obama answers no. He only compels that parents insure their children. The Illinois senator believes the costs of insurance are too high, so why force people to buy something they can't afford?

The two Democratic campaigns clash regularly on the issue. The dispute erupted again quite recently when Mrs. Clinton complained about flyers sent out by the Obama campaign, charging the New York senator's health plan would impose new and expensive obligations on people without the means to pay for it.

Polling suggests Mr. Obama may be on to something. Universal health care coverage is one of those public-policy issues where it's easier to find consensus on the goal than the solution.

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