The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

New plan, same agenda

“The American people should have access to the same array of health care choices and benefits as the Senators and Representatives they elect.”

This was a bold statement made by Senator Hillary R. Clinton, front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, who unveiled her ambitious new plan for health care last week. “The American Health Choices Plan,” the proposal’s official title, is yet another broad outline by a presidential candidate aimed to lower the high number of Americans who are uninsured. The announcement should come as no surprise since, given the magnitude of public concern over health coverage this election year, every serious contender has been expected to present a general strategy in dealing with the controversial issue. The significance of Mrs. Clinton’s proposal, however, is that it is the first one she has offered since the ill-fated health care plan she originally proposed during her husband’s presidency.

That highly contested plan was defeated in 1994 due in large part to its complexity and a Republican-controlled Congress. Its failure served to further divide Americans on the issue and that divide has only grown as the number of Americans without health coverage, according the National Coalition on Health Care, has swollen to 47 million people as of 2005.

Perhaps learning from her past mistakes, Senator Clinton did not attempt to create an improved version of her previous plan. In fact, her new proposal is almost a direct opposite.

Businesses would not be required to provide coverage for all of their employees, for instance, but would instead receive tax incentives to help cover the financial burden if they do decide to comply. Also, those who have been more than satisfied with their current coverage would not have to worry about surrendering their private insurance plan.

“This is not government run,” said Clinton. “There will be no new bureaucracy.” She stressed that no one will have to sacrifice the comfort of having a private doctor.

Clinton’s new plan is similar to that of her fellow Democratic hopeful, Senator Barrack Obama. Neither of the two appears interested in creating a whole new system of health care, but rather seek to build upon the current employer-based system.
Under this system America is divided into three categories.

There are those who have private coverage, those who are covered by their employers, and then there are the rest who are left without any coverage at all, leaving them extremely vulnerable to the rising cost of health care.

The Republican response to Clinton’s announcement was the typical GOP approach of implying that she was a socialist. Mitt Romney even said that Senator Clinton “takes her inspiration from European bureaucracies,” obviously referring to the socialized health care system that is in place for much of Western Europe.

There is nothing new there because even Rudolph Giuliani has been critical of the Democrats for directing us towards “Canadian health care, French health care, and British health care.”

That being said, there is one thing that is baffling about this whole issue: neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to be disagreeing with each other. Take away the elementary school level insults that the candidates have publicly thrown around during debates, and they all are actually saying the same thing. They don’t want the health care system socialized. That means they don’t want every American citizen to be entitled to free, universal health.

Can you really blame them though? After all, we’re talking about free health care here. This is America. More importantly, this is capitalism. Freedom comes at high price, and not just the kind paid by the thousands of American troops who have lost their lives in Iraq.

No, it would be a great injustice for us to tell the big insurance companies that they couldn’t profit off Americans by charging incredibly high rates to provide basic health coverage.

You have to give the Republicans credit though. At least they openly admit that they are opposed to providing all Americans coverage. This can’t be better expressed than by Giuliani’s health care proposal. He calls for the current system to be dissolved and to have people purchase their own health coverage – from private companies no doubt.

The idea is that if Americans had the choice of deciding their insurers, the competition would result in lower prices.

But what does he expect to tell the poor man with a chronic kidney disease? He would most likely be denied coverage by most insurance companies. He would be considered too high a risk and, without the security of guaranteed coverage, it is safe to assume that he can also be considered a dead man walking.
“Part of our health care system is the best in the world; and we should build on it. Part of the system is broken and we should fix it,” said Clinton of the current system.

Here’s a better idea: either openly state that you’re not for universal health coverage and stop pretending that you are, or prove us all wrong and actually create a new system. But I guess the word “freedom” shouldn’t be applied to our health. That just isn’t the capitalist, or rather, the American way.

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