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Under Mr. Obama’s plan, employers can either provide insurance to their employees or pay a percentage of payroll toward the cost of the new national plan. Small businesses, which are exempt from this requirement, would receive subsidies if they insure their workers.

Today, 46 million Americans lack health insurance, and 72 million working-age people in the United States report hardship in paying their medical bills. With health-care costs and unemployment on the rise, with employers scaling back on health benefits for workers and with Americans postponing medical care as a result, significant consequences could be lost productivity due to illness, increases in hospitalization, and premature death.

This is unacceptable in a country that has some of the most sophisticated, cutting-edge medical treatments in the world as well as the tools to prevent disease in the first place. Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama have proposed dramatically different roadmaps for health-care reform.

With so much at stake on Nov. 4, we need a president who will write a prescription to heal our ailing health-care system and economy, ensuring a healthier and more prosperous future for us all.

Susan Blumenthal, M.D., a former U.S. assistant surgeon general, is director of the Health and Medicine Program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) and a clinical professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Yi-An Ko, a graduate of Harvard University, is a former health policy fellow, and Justin Mutter, a graduate of the University of Virginia, is a research assistant in CSP’s Health and Medicine Program.