It's 2007, and universal healthcare is in the air. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) has called for the federal government to follow Massachusetts' example and extend healthcare to all Americans. Kennedy recently assumed the role of chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which deals with a number of health-related issues. In his first day on the job, Kennedy called in 10 witnesses to testify on different options that could make healthcare more affordable. "Insurance coverage is down. Costs are up. And America is heading to the bottom of the league of major nations in important measures of the quality of care," Kennedy said.
Kennedy, of course, hails from the first state in the union to require all residents to purchase health insurance, paving the way for a number of other states--most recently California--to try their hand at universal health. Kennedy pointed to the spirit of cooperation in Massachusetts that allowed state officials to come up with a workable compromise for universal health. Kennedy's own plan differs from that of Mitt Romney's.
Finding a compromise on a national level will, naturally, be difficult. Even Kennedy's own witnesses couldn't agree on a solution to the problem. But almost everyone could agree on two points: (1) Congress should expand coverage to all children, and (2) the federal government shouldn't interfere in states' efforts to roll out expanded coverage. Who knows where Kennedy's proposal will end up, but the political environment has been kind to universal care as of late, so maybe it has a chance.
For more on KennedyCare:
- read the Senator's statement
- check out this report from the AP