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MONDAY, JUNE 12, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Sen. Clinton takes another look at health-care reform

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is trying to turn a political liability into an asset while helping solve the growing problem of access to health care.

As first lady of the United States in 1994, she failed spectacularly to obtain universal health coverage with a plan that critics damned as too complicated and expensive, among other things. Those critics included people who had their own interests to protect, such as drug companies and insurance companies, but their criticism may have had some merit.

It's too bad the Bill Clinton administration could not come up with a better plan and sell it then. The problem has only gotten worse.

The New York Times says that about 45.8 million Americans are now uninsured — up from 39.8 million in 1994. The Times cites data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation that show premiums for family coverage in employer-sponsored insurance have risen by 73 percent in the past five years.

That employer-sponsored insurance is now a financial burden for businesses and workers alike. It makes American companies less competitive with foreign ones — raising the prices of American-made cars, for example. Sen. Clinton is making that point to business audiences. So health coverage is becoming an economic imperative as well as a moral one.

Sen. Clinton is running for re-election to the Senate this year, but could be running for president in 2008. She's undoubtedly hoping that, as Americans realize the urgency of health-care reform, they'll remember that she tried to do something about it more than a decade ago.

She's saying that from failure, she learned lessons that will be valuable on a second try.

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