WHY NOT HEALTH CARE FOR ALL?

Sergio Olaya is a 21-year-old college student who has had to drop out of school because of our country’s messed up health insurance system.

Sergio Olaya is a 21-year-old college student who has had to drop out of school because of our country’s messed up health insurance system.

Actually, Olaya has health coverage, for he’s a federal employee. But, his mother wasn’t covered when she was suddenly hit with an aggressive cancer this year. She died, and her son is now grappling with $255,000 in medical bills for her treatment. The hospital has sicced its collection agency on him – so, to pay the bills, he had to quit college and is now selling the house where he and his mother lived.

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Ironically, Mr. Olaya’s job is in the U.S. Senate. He runs an elevator on which our honorable solons ride everyday. Senators share a ride with him, but they share none of the health-care anxieties and financial burdens that millions of Americans like Olaya carry. Members of Congress, you see, are fully covered by us taxpayers.

Well, gosh, if it’s good enough for them, I’m sure it would be good enough for the rest of us. We don’t want any special coverage – we’ll be happy with what Congress gives itself.

Not all Senators are boneheads about this, and they’re pushing bills to provide such universal coverage. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio deserves special praise, for he is refusing to accept the Congressional coverage for himself, saying he won’t take it until every American is covered.

Then there’s presidential contender John Edwards, who has put a strong, universal health care plan at the center of his campaign. If elected, he intends not only to push his plan in Congress, but to couple it with a bill that would strip lawmakers of their own coverage if they fail to cover everyone else.

Edwards’ proposal for universal coverage also includes a single-payer alternative to compete with profiteering insurance corporations. See it all at www.johnedwards.com/.

“Just Off Insular Senate Floor, life of the Uninsured Intrudes,” www.nytimes.com, November 24, 2007

“Edwards: If Members of Congress Won’t Give Americans a Healthcare Plan, I’ll Take Away Theirs,” www.alternet.org, November 16, 2007

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