Friday, March 10, 2006

Universal Health Care

Two journals I read religiously are The Atlantic Monthly and The New Republic. A new editor at TNR, Franklin Foer, just issued an editorial calling for liberals to revive the call for universal health care.

Here's an excerpt:

Over the last 25 years, liberalism has lost both its good name and its sway over politics. But it is liberalism's loss of imagination that is most disheartening. Since President Clinton's health care plan unraveled in 1994--a debacle that this magazine, regrettably, abetted--liberals have grown chastened and confused, afraid to think big ideas. Such reticence had its proper time and place; large-scale political and substantive failures demand introspection, not to mention humility. But it is time to be ambitious again. And the place to begin is the very spot where liberalism left off a decade ago: Guaranteeing every American citizen access to affordable, high-quality medical care.

The familiar name for this idea is "universal health care," a term that, however accurate, drains the concept of its moral resonance. Alone among the most developed nations, the United States allows nearly 16 percent of its population--46 million people--to go without health insurance.

And, while it is commonly assumed that the uninsured still get medical care, statistics and anecdotes tell a different story. Across the United States today, there are diabetics skimping on their insulin, child asthmatics struggling to breathe, and cancer victims dying from undetected tumors. Studies by the Institute of Medicine suggest that thousands of people, maybe even tens of thousands, die prematurely every year because they don't have health insurance. And even those who don't suffer medical consequences face financial and emotional pain, as when seniors choose between prescriptions and groceries--or when families choose between the mortgage and hospital bills.

These are not the sorts of hardships that an enlightened society tolerates...
Meanwhile -- our government hands out tax breaks for the wealthy, and pisses $7 billion away in Iraq every month.

It is time for a change.

posted at 2:11:00 PM by Neil

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