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Pro: Obama’s health plan offers full coverage without emptying the Treasury

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Wayne Madsen
April 9, 2008
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, Will Sen. Barack Obama’s health-care proposal provide coverage for all Americans at a reasonable cost?

Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama is advocating a bold and progressive plan that will move 47 million Americans not now covered by health insurance from the vulnerability rolls to the insured rolls.


Of course, providing medical insurance for currently uninsured Americans, while strengthening the coverage of tens of millions other Americans now covered by substandard programs, will be no easy task.


The ambitious plan by the junior senator from Illinois, however, should be able to achieve its objectives without breaking a national Treasury already depleted by six years of costly and unnecessary war.


Obama’s plan is a model of fairness: it will offer uninsured and under-insured Americans the same benefits and coverage now granted to members of Congress under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.


Such a massive move by the federal government to underwrite and support the delivery of affordable health insurance to Americans—regardless of pre-existing conditions—will send shockwaves through a health insurance, hospital and pharmaceutical troika that has drained our wallets and preyed on our physical and mental well-being for decades.


Obama’s national health insurance program, let’s call it “ObamaCare,” provides Americans with affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.


For those who do not qualify for Medicare or State Children’s Health Insurance Program, Obama’s plan provides federal subsidies for individuals and families to buy into “ObamaCare” or buy a private health plan from a participant in a National Health Insurance Exchange. Private participants will be barred from using pre-existing conditions in providing coverage.


The mere federal impetus for its own national health plan will force private providers to become more affordable and competitive or simply go out of business.


ObamaCare also reduces paperwork, provides easy enrollment, ensures portability for those changing jobs or moving to new locations, and requires private participants to adhere to national standards of health care.


Employers who fail to provide adequate health coverage to their workers will be required to help pay for the national program through a small tax on their payroll. Smaller businesses are exempt.


ObamaCare does not interfere with state health-care plans, but all 50 states must meet minimum national health-care provision standards.


ObamaCare installs a number of chronic disease management programs that affect 133 million Americans and cost the existing health-care system $1.7 trillion a year. Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease—the three most prevalent chronic diseases—and other ailments such as cancer and AIDS are addressed through the use of better-informed doctors, nurses and staff; negotiated pharmaceutical purchases by the federal government (currently banned under federal law); acquisition of drugs from generic sources and foreign developed nations; and closer doctor-patient relationships.


ObamaCare compassionately addresses the “silent killer” in America: mental illness. Mental illness under ObamaCare is treated as any other illness under the national program.


Three other health hazards, virtually ignored by the Bush administration, are also addressed by Obama’s program: lead poisoning of children, mercury poisoning and autism. These medical issues, along with women’s health care issues, especially relating to cancer screenings and pre-natal care, are high on the young Chicagoan’s agenda.


The Hillary Clinton campaign has often made the charge that ObamaCare leaves more people uninsured than Clinton’s program. That’s because “ClintonCare,” which did not pan out when her husband was president, requires everyone to have insurance, whether or not they have the means to afford it.


ObamaCare, by contrast, addresses those who do not now have insurance. If people do not have money to afford coverage, the government will foot the bill.


The exorbitant costs of Hillary’s program could break the Treasury and a take a deeper slice of Americans’ meager and diminishing incomes. By any measurement, Obama’s plan is more cost-effective and provides more coverage for the buck.


Wayne Madsen is a contributing writer to the progressive Online Journal (www.onlinejournal.com). Readers may write to him c/o National Press Club, Front Desk, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.

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