Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

An unexpected champion for universal health care

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“Without adequate health care, no one can make full use of his or her talents and opportunities. It is thus just as important that economic, racial and social barriers not stand in the way of good health care as it is to eliminate those barriers to a good education and a good job.”

Know who said this?  Obama?  Pelosi?  Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius?  All wrong.  It was Richard Nixon, one of conservatism’s most revered figures (until impeachment forced his resignation), during a January 1974 speech to congress.

The speech promoted his “Assisted Health Insurance” program which was “designed to cover everyone not offered coverage under Employee Health Insurance or Medicare, including the unemployed, the disabled, the self-employed, and those with low incomes.”

What?  Nixon wanted universal health care?

Weird how Fox News hotheads and Republican congress members fawn over Nixon’s economic and foreign policies yet ignore his views on health care.

Why is this?  Health care reform is not inherently “un-conservative”; Nixon would probably argue that reform is more conservative than doing nothing, considering the spending burden health care poses for the government.

Bruce Bartlett cites this troubling CBO data on his Forbes blog:  Medicare spending has risen 2.3 percent faster per year than growth of nominal GDP per capita since 1975.

The conservative philosophy of limiting government interference in the market has benefits- economic growth, innovation, etc.- but the government must ensure some things, like fire protection and public safety, to maintain a civil society.

Why is health care excluded from this list?  Not only would universal coverage saves lives (see earlier posts) but it would also reduce long term spending.

A recent Harvard Medical School study found those without health insurance between 51 and 64 induce $1,000 more Medicaid spending per than those with insurance after age 65.

Nixon would consider containing costs that have risen so precipitously for 30 years straight “conservative”.  How come Republicans today think differently?


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Written by Chris Russell

October 24, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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