News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


We all get sick, need health care

Elizabeth Edwards is the wife of a Democratic presidential candidate and Tony Snow is the chief spokesman for a Republican president, but they are on the same side of the battle against cancer.

Both recently announced that cancer for which they had previously been treated had come back.

Mrs. Edwards, the wife of John Edwards, and Mr. Snow, President Bush’s press secretary, have access to excellent medical care. The Edwards family is rich, and surely the White House has a fine employee health insurance plan.

Not everyone is so fortunate. Almost 50 million Americans have no health insurance. While everyone supposedly is entitled to minimal health care regardless of ability to pay, uninsured people are less likely to get preventive care that may keep them from becoming seriously ill. Once they get sick, their options are limited.

For most people, health insurance is linked to employment — a marriage of convenience rather than logic. For employers, cost has become a burden. Workers find that health care influences decisions about what jobs to take and keep.

Health care reform ought to be a major issue in the 2008 presidential campaign.

As it happens, John Edwards offered one of the more detailed proposals (before his wife’s cancer came back). Mr. Edwards wants to involve businesses, government, insurers and individuals in a plan to make health insurance available, affordable and mandatory. Private insurers would compete against government-sponsored coverage, and “this American solution will reward the sector that offers the best care at the best price,” says the Edwards plan, which you can read on his campaign Web site.

We hope Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Snow will return to good health and enjoy long life. And we hope their illnesses will remind Americans that health care is an urgent bipartisan problem.

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