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Public Statements - Aid Uninsured, Thompson Urges

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Location: Unknown - Aid Uninsured, Thompson Urges

By Robert King

GOP presidential candidate Tommy Thompson piled into a car headed for the Indianapolis airport Friday energized by a midday discussion at a Downtown hotel on the need to provide health care to the uninsured.

"I think that's one of the better ones we've done," said Thompson, referring to the forums his private Deloitte Center for Health Solutions holds regularly on the issue.

The former Wisconsin governor and U.S. secretary of health and human services seems to get a buzz from panel discussions about "curative care" and "insurable pools" that reflects his desire to see health care become a key issue in 2008.

Thompson, 65, says it is also what makes him different from a crowded field of candidates with much higher profiles.

"None of the other candidates talk about ideas," he said. "I'm laying out plans on health care. I'm laying out plans on Iraq."

On health care, Thompson wants greater emphasis on disease prevention, which he says can lower costs. He says states should seek bids from private insurers to cover pools of people who need coverage. He thinks costs can be shared by the patients, employers and the government. In some ways, he wants to do what Gov. Mitch Daniels has proposed in Indiana -- only bigger.
On Iraq, Thompson's biggest idea is to ask the Iraqi government to hold a national referendum on a simple question: Do you want U.S. troops there or not? "If they vote yes, it gives us legitimacy for being there," he said. "If they vote no, we should get out."

Thompson said Iraq should be cut into 18 territories akin to U.S. states. Each territory could elect its own government.

Thompson opposes the congressional plan to tie troop funding to withdrawal deadlines. But he admits the war has been "poorly handled" -- too few troops, too little thought to an exit strategy. "I think we tried to do it on the cheap," he said.

All of his ideas hinge on his campaign strategy -- winning this summer's straw poll in Iowa, where Thompson is betting all his campaign chips.

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