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Commentary

Getting Moving on Health Care
John F. Kerry, The Boston Globe, 7-31-06

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry editorializes on the need to end the U.S.'s health care crisis and institute a universal health care system. To support his program, Kerry suggests rolling back the Bush tax cuts to ensure that by 2012 every American is guaranteed health insurance.

We're stuck with a 20th- century healthcare system that just doesn't work for a 21st- century economy.

The traditional employer-based healthcare system can no longer meet all our needs. Costs are too high, and businesses overseas are operating on a whole different playing field.

Healthcare for a family of four now costs more than a minimum-wage worker earns in a year. Certainly, things have gotten worse. Under this administration's watch, the number of uninsured Americans has grown by 6 million and premiums are up a whopping 73 percent.

This affects all of us. It matters if the kid down the block isn't immunized. It matters to your tax burden when simple, treatable illnesses turn into expensive emergency room visits—often the only option for those without insurance. And it matters if we care about our moral obligation to others.

We need to cut healthcare costs. And we need a healthcare system that ensures quality, affordable healthcare for every American man, woman, and child.

If Kerry thinks that the U.S. is alone in facing a healthcare "crisis" he ought to take a look around. Many of our developed competitors are facing rapidly rising health care costs as well, largely because citizens in wealthy nations are demanding access to advanced health care technologies, and have little incentive to economize on their health care consumption. In fact, despite complaints about rising health care costs in the U.S., Americans, on average, still only pay about 16 cents out of pocket for every dollar spent on health care. Increasing government control of health care markets will only lead to health care rationing without alleviating the core problems afflicting American health care.



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