Senator Ted Kennedy on the Importance of Health Care

Senator Ted Kennedy has shown true leadership in his quest for health care reform over the last four decades. I’ve been a small business owner for the last several years, after having been with two global technology companies. Health care reform and insurance, in particular, is critical to our country. Without it, we will certainly be driven into far more financial turmoil than we are in today.

I recently read Senator Ted Kennedy’s health care reform article printed in Newsweek called “The Cause of My Life”. In this article Mr. Kennedy talks about why he has tirelessly lobbied for universal health care throughout his career.

Mr. Kennedy has had plenty of tragedy and medical issues throughout his family’s life. Health care reform became a rallying cry for him when his 12 year old son, Teddy, had his right leg amputated because of cancer. During his son’s cancer treatments, he met and spoke with many families, who unlike the Kennedy’s did not have the ability to afford quality medical care.

As a small business owner with two children, we are all too acutely aware of how important it is to have health care coverage. This is especially true if you are the only bread winner and there is no other coverage.

My elderly father was recently hospitalized after fainting at home. After 5 days of hospitalization, they finally deduced that he had anemia due to a bleeding ulcer. The cost of the hospital stay … sixty four thousand dollars ($64,000). This didn’t even include the 911 ambulance ride, or the doctor’s visits. Fortunately, for my father he had insurance, which covered most of the cost. Can you imagine someone who could not afford this cost?

Senator Ted Kennedy had additional experiences within his own immediate family. His son Patrick was hospitalized several times for serious asthma attacks and his daughter, Kara, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. Fortunately for both children, their father was able to pay for medical treatment and they are both alive and well today. Without Mr. Kennedy’s health care reform, countless families would not be so lucky.

Mr. Kennedy and actually all of the Kennedy brothers have always been a champion of the common people. He could have chosen easier policies on which to fight and win, but he chose this cause because he knew this is a cause that affects all of us at some point in our lives. We are one of the few industrialized countries without some form of universal health care.

I also just returned from visiting one of my college friends who is terminally ill, also with cancer. For weeks, his insurance company denied him coverage to go to the hospital. Only after pleading with them and telling them how ill he was, did they “grant” him coverage. Then, when it was determined that he only had a few weeks to live, they initially denied him hospice care to live out his short life at home. Why would any sane health care insurance company deny someone a better quality of life, even though it’s been determined that it also saves them money?

Senator Ted Kennedy may well succeed in death as he tried to do in life … to create real health care reform. With the support of Barack Obama’s administration, we could be on our way to creating a country that lives up to its creed of taking care of the poor and the rich, the old and the young, and the uninsured, as well as the insured.

Health Care Reform

Several presidents have tried to push health care reform in the past, but none have been as successful as the country’s current president, Barack Obama. However, President Obama and the Democrats have created two health care bills that would not benefit the country, as they believe. Instead, these two bills would severely damage the country’s health care systems.

At this point, there is definitely a need for health care reform. Costs are skyrocketing, insurers are denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and insurers are charging different rates just because of someone’s medical history. The provisions that eliminate those last two problems need to be included in any health care reform bill. When someone with a health condition tries to purchase insurance, the companies will deny them because of that condition, but the patient really needs health care because of whatever condition they have. Also, a person should not have to pay a much higher rate just because of their medical history, which they mostly cannot control.

However, there are also many provisions in the two bills that would damage or even destroy the nation’s health care system. The most important of these is the government-run insurance option, also called the “public option.” The Democrats included this plan because they want a cheaper health insurance option that could compete with private insurers and help lower costs. However, this public option would only be the first step toward a single-payer system, which is where the government is the sole health insurance provider. This would happen because the public option would be extremely less expensive than private insurance plans, which would entice people to leave their private insurance plan and buy a public plan. Also, private insurers would have to lower their costs to compete with this, and then they would be unable to operate because of the lower income. These two factors combined would cause private insurers to go out of business, creating a single-payer system.

Another damaging provision in the bills is the creation of many new taxes that would pay for the reform. The version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives includes a surtax on people with a yearly income of $500,000 or greater. This money, which would be forcibly taken from wealthier people, would just be given to poorer people to help them buy health insurance. This is called “spreading the wealth,” which is a form of socialism (where everybody in a society is equal). Everyone is not equal, and awarding money to poorer people would just encourage people to quit their jobs and be lazy so they could qualify for financial assistance from the government.

The House version of the bill also requires illegal immigrants to buy coverage. This is perhaps one of the worst provisions in either health care reform bill. Because illegal immigrants are “undocumented,” they do not pay taxes, and therefore legal American citizens would be the sole people paying for these illegal aliens’ health insurance plans. The American people should not be required to pay for health insurance for people who moved to this country illegally and do not pay their fair share of taxes.

Also, the Constitution does not grant Congress, the president, or any other government bodies the power to require individuals to purchase health insurance or to require businesses to provide health insurance to their employees. The government must operate within the Constitution, which does not give them any power over controlling health care. The government would end up being the single payer for health insurance because of the public option, and the Constitution does not give them this power, either.