Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Voting for better health care
Some of the biggest highlights from the Republican debate last night revolved around immigration and the war, and even religion. Lightning actually interfered with Rudy Giuliani's microphone as he answered a question about his support for abortion rights. That was a little unsettling. Still, something else caught my attention. Sen. Sam Brownback reminded us that "the leading cause of fear in America today is that you'll get cancer." He went on to say, "This one is actually within our reach and it something we can go at and we should go at, and it touches a lot of Americans." That is so true. In fact, it even touches a lot of presidential candidates.
Sen. John McCain had melanoma, and Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Sen. John Edwards, has stage 4 breast cancer. Giuliani has a history of prostate cancer that may have been the reason he dropped out of his senate race a few years ago. Sen. Hillary Clinton's mother-in-law died of cancer, and former Vice President Al Gore (who has not announced) lost his sister to cancer years ago. Former Sen. Fred Thompson, who is widely anticipated to enter the race, has a type of lymphoma.
Last night, we finally started talking about an issue that is a concern of millions of Americans - health care. Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson had the numbers at his fingertips. We spend 2 trillion on health care, which is 16 percent of the gross national product, and 93 percent of those dollars go into caring for someone after they are sick. Less than 10 percent goes into actually keeping people well. Thompson's plan focuses a lot on shifting money toward preventive care to cut costs in the long run.
In the United States, we pay the most and get the least of any industrialized nation, with regard to our health. Most of the candidates have some sort of plan, whether it is heavy government subsidies, requiring employers to help finance health care or even raising taxes. Some even want to appeal to the pharmaceutical companies to drive down prescription drug costs. What do you think? We have had a broken health care system for decades. Is it fixable and how do we achieve that?
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