(CNN) -- Charging that Democrats' health care proposals would lead to "socialized medicine," Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani said Tuesday he wants to give American citizens more control over their health care.
"We've got to do it the American way," Giuliani said during a town hall forum in Rochester, New Hampshire. "The American way is not single-payer, government-controlled anything. That's a European way of doing something; that's frankly a socialist way of doing something."
"That's why when you hear Democrats in particular talk about single-mandated health care, universal health care, what they're talking about is socialized medicine."
Giuliani's health care plan, unveiled at the forum, includes giving taxpayers tax credits to purchase private health insurance. The highlight of Giuliani's plan: a $15,000 tax deduction for each family to buy private health insurance.
According to Giuliani, money left over from one year could be used the following year to cover health care costs. He says his program for private insurance would replace coverage from employers.
On the campaign trail in the state that holds the first primary, Giuliani said that "America's health care system is being dragged down by decades of government-imposed mandates and wasteful, unaccountable bureaucracy. To reform, we must empower all Americans by increasing health care choices and affordability, while bringing accountability to the system." Watch what Giuliani had to say about Democrats' proposals »
Giuliani, the Republican party's presidential frontrunner in national polls, also said that "government cannot take care of you. You've got to take care of yourself."
While outlining his plan, Giuliani offered few details. The former New York City mayor said that later this year, he would have more specifics on how much his plan would cost and how many people who don't have insurance would be covered by his proposal.
There are approximately 44.8 million Americans currently without health care coverage, which equals 15.3% of the population.
Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, have released more detailed plans to help insure those without coverage.
Edwards' proposal, which would require all Americans to have coverage, would cost up to $120 billion per year, according to his campaign.
Edwards says he would pay for his plan by repealing the current tax cuts for wealthy Americans. Obama's plan is modeled after the health coverage plan that federal workers now use. Obama says his plan could cost up to $65 million per year, and he would also pay for it by eliminating President Bush's tax cuts for the rich.
At a media event after his forum Tuesday, Giuliani continued attacking the Democratic presidential rivals' health care positions, telling reporters that "John Edwards says 'I'm just going to take all these people and I'm going to cover them in Medicaid.' Well, OK, fine, that's socialized medicine. If you want a system like England has, if you want a system like Canada has, if you want a system like Cuba has, that's where we're headed."
Giuliani then repeated an attack on the Democrats he used the day before in New Hampshire, comparing Democratic health plans to those of France.
"[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy is on an airplane headed to the United States, and Hillary and Barack and John Edwards are on an airplane headed to France," Giuliani said. "They are looking for the socialist solution they have in Europe, and Sarkozy is looking for the free-market private solutions that work so well in the United States."
Edwards' campaign responded to Giuliani's attacks. Spokesman Eric Schultz said, "Rudy Giuliani's health care plan will only make matters worse, hurting middle-class families at the expense of the most fortunate Americans. John Edwards believes that no family in this country should have to go without health insurance, while Rudy Giuliani believes that no millionaire should have to go without a George Bush tax cut."
Health care is among one of the top issues on the minds of Americans, according to the most recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation national poll. In June, 17 percent of those questioned said health was the most important issue in their vote for president, ranking third behind the war in Iraq and the economy. E-mail to a friend
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