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O'Malley unveils healthcare plan as he looks to revive campaign

O'Malley unveils healthcare plan as he looks to revive campaign
© Greg Nash

Vowing to crack down on the nation’s pharmaceutical industry while expanding coverage to 95 percent of all people, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley on Tuesday laid out his healthcare plan.

The former Maryland governor pledged to protect poorer Americans by tackling drug “price gouging,” rising deductibles and healthcare mergers in a platform that largely resembles his Democratic presidential rivals.

"We should be proud that America leads the world in developing life-saving cures, but the world’s drug innovation should not be subsidized on the backs of the sickest patients in the United States," O'Malley wrote in his plan, released publicly Tuesday morning.

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While he said companies should be able to make a "reasonable rate of return" on their research dollars, he said those companies should not set prices to "extract every possible dollar from the rest of the economy."

O'Malley is hardening his stance against the for-profit healthcare industry at a time when steep drug price hikes and massive mergers are grabbing headlines nationally — making the price of day-to-day healthcare costs a top issue in the 2016 election.

Like candidates Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFor Joe Biden, an experienced foreign policy team Millennials and the great reckoning on race Biden chooses Amanda Gorman as youngest known inaugural poet MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal MORE (I-Vt.), O’Malley would use the government’s purchase power to negotiate drug costs and repeal the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost plans.

Each of the Democratic candidates, including O’Malley, say their plan would build off progress of the still-controversial Affordable Care Act.

Still, O’Malley’s 10-page healthcare plan is the lengthiest to date, with promises ranging from more funding for the National Institutes of Health and eliminating lead poisoning to expanded access to clinical trial data and integrating behavioral healthcare into the traditional system.

He would also expand healthcare coverage to 95 percent of people — up from about 88 percent currently — by 2020, in part by offering a pathway to Medicaid for new immigrants by eliminating waiting periods.

O’Malley, who has trail both Clinton and Sanders in the polls, is projected to be reaching the end of his cash. He released his plan Tuesday morning as part of a bid to jumpstart his campaign, about 10 weeks before the first official match-up between Democrats at the Iowa caucuses.