Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kennedy On Medicare For All

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) had a good column out yesterday in which he talked about a plan he is introducing with Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) that would extend Medicare to all Americans, from birth to the end of life.

Kennedy, who is chairman of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, says that, in addition to reducing costs and improving quality of care, the plan would put a new emphasis on preventive care.

An excerpt:
"Nearly 47 million Americans lack health care coverage -- an increase of more than 6 million since the year President Bush took office. Four in five of the uninsured are from working families. Nearly half have postponed needed medical care because of the cost, and a third skipped a recommended treatment because they could not afford it. Were this the limit of our failure in health care, it would be shame enough, but America's health care crisis does not end with those who lack coverage entirely.

"Millions of Americans face agonizing choices each month between paying their health premiums, their rent or their grocery bills. In six years, families have seen their health insurance premiums jump 87 percent while earnings rose only 20 percent. Is it any wonder that half of all personal bankruptcies are the result of overwhelming health costs?

"This new year brings a new Congress, a new mandate for change from the American people, and it ought to bring a new resolution to make health care a national priority. We can reform our system, and we must."
Kennedy goes on to say that his program would be voluntary, with people able to stay with employer-based health plans if they so desire.

You can read the entire column here and, with the first debate tonight featuring candidates vying for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, let's hope the issue of our national health care crisis is front and center.