Managing Healthcare Without the Lion

Former Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, or as he is more famously nicknamed, Ted Kennedy, was a man born into politics and raised through the Camelot legacy. Known for his motivational speeches and charismatic nature, Ted, as he was affectionately known, used his charisma to pass laws that positively affected individuals of all ages including lowering the voting age to 18, augmenting cancer research and contributing to equal civil rights for all citizens. Of course, like any man in politics, he had his downfalls, such as the Chappaquiddick incident, the loss of his primary campaign to President Jimmy Carter, as well as several unsuccessful immigration reform efforts. Despite these personal failures, Kennedy’s great legislative legacy is indicative of his prominence in the political arena. Despite these great contributions, including health care reform, his greatest goal and what he personally referred to as “the cause of his life,” still remains unaccomplished.

Today’s health care system is dysfunctional. With insurance costs rising and private insurance companies pocketing extra money from patients, the universal health care act seems to be the only hope for saving our health care system from total corruption. Kennedy’s personal experiences at the hospital have given him a personal view of the hospital setting as well as an appreciation for the current health care plan. In one of his speeches, he mentioned that viewing others being treated with less care due to their lack of insurance coverage has given him a personal passion to promote his national health care plan. Kennedy’s plan, which I believe is more trustworthy than any insurance company’s plan could ever be, would be a single-payer plan expanding coverage to every American that would eliminate the medical expense caps insurance companies retain, as well as cost sharing. The national plan would be administered by the Social Security administration instead of private insurance companies. If passed, this act would definitely give Americans access to health care that is finally affordable and reliable. Kennedy’s support of the Obama administration’s universal health care act has been very crucial in keeping it alive and bridging the partisan divide.

Kennedy was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The true question is whether his loss of his battle with cancer has highlighted the current state of health care. After all, he was the man behind the giant push toward universal health care, fighting for it 15 times throughout his life. His death will widen the gap between republicans and democrats on this issue. Republicans will continue to claim that Kennedy bridged the partisan divide and his passing eliminates any reasonable compromises. With Kennedy’s death, there is one less vote in the U.S. senate for health care reform.

The lion of the Senate is gone and the booming voice of the Health Committee will not be as loud as it once was. He was an irreplaceable individual devoted to saving health care. Hopefully, more people will be inspired to become active in helping President Obama pass his universal health care act. Kennedy’s forthcomings, ideas and achievements have come to define American progressivism. Perhaps naming the reform “The Teddy Kennedy Universal Health care Act” will give it the required celebrity boost to gain public support and finally pass.

Samer Roumani is a fourth-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at sroumani@uci.edu.