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Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Kerry, Feingold, and Healthcare Reform
Two Democrats who are considered possible candidates for President in 2008 are proposing legislation on healthcare reform to find ways to provide health insurance to the more than 45 million Americans who do not have coverage.
“We can't triangulate this issue," Kerry said, indicating that a “third way” compromise with Republicans would likely result in many Americans remaining uninsured. “The Democratic Party must stand for healthcare for all Americans, or we don't stand for anything at all.”
Interestingly, the new Massachusetts healthcare policy is the epitome of triangulation and bipartisan compromise, though and some critics say it will fall short of providing universal health coverage.
The latest proposal by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin is an innovative plan that would enable states to test universal health care plans, in light of the federal government’s unforgivable inability to insure all Americans.
Feingold has always supported universal healthcare, calling in his first senate term for a single-payer model. In 1993, he opposed the Clinton healthcare plan, arguing that it did too much for the insurance industry, and not enough for the uninsured.
As for the costs of these plans: Kerry’s aides have told the Globe that his plan would cost $653 billion over 10 years, and maintain that a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for people who make more than $200,000 annually would help fund it.
Meanwhile Feingold’s plan, a pilot program that reflects a growing belief that state governments are a more likely home for creative policy-making than the federal government, is expected to cost $32 billion over ten years.
The question of how effective and politically feasible these plans are will be debated in the coming months. Given that an estimated 18,000 Americans die each year from lack of health insurance, it is clear that reform is long overdue.