Saturday, June 10, 2006

Health Care, Again

An issue on not being discussed so much recently but definitely still important is health care. For Senator Clinton of New York it is an issue that she is intimately familiar with and though the wounds of 1994 have healed she has indicated in recent months whether through bipartisan work with Newt Gingrich and Majority Leader Bill Frist or in recent campaign material that she is ready to rejoin the debate. This is good.
There are now, in the most recent estimates, about 45.8 million uninsured Americans (8.3 million of them children), up from 39.8 million in 1994. Premiums for family coverage in employer-sponsored insurance — the way most Americans under 65 get their coverage — have risen by 73 percent in the past five years, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Mrs. Clinton often frames the problem today as one of economics as much as social justice. She asserts that soaring health costs are weighing down American corporations and hindering their ability to compete in a global marketplace, against countries with government-financed health benefits or no expectation of health coverage at all. This is correct and an important distinction between 1994 and 2006. Corporation and small business were against the universal health-care plan in 1994. Slowly, though only whispers at the moment, it is these very same former opponents that are going to ask the government to take over providing health-care.
As reported in the New York Times Mrs. Clinton has not pushed a comprehensive coverage plan in her first term in the Senate. As part of the Democratic minority, she has primarily focused on defending existing programs from cuts by conservatives.
In campaign stops and interviews, Mrs. Clinton is quick to admit errors and thereby distance herself from the old plan. "I think that both the process and the plan were flawed," she has said "We were trying to do something that was very hard to do, and we made a lot of mistakes." That was then and now is now. Health-care is an issue of our own choosing. Corporations and smaller companies through adjusting to market changes and unfortunately caving to personal greed and ambition, forced an issue, once considered an idea of the fringe minority, to be center stage in several mid-term races and will prove to be a top issue in the 2008 presidential election. For opponents who wish only for this issue to go away, it will not happen. For proponents who wish for a style of health-care originally proposed by Mrs. Clinton back in 1994, she will not be proposing such a plan ever again. What will occur is another debate. This is proper, but for the sake of children and families without health insurance let the debate be short, legislation reasonable, and implementation fast.

No comments: