Magazine article Black Enterprise

Rx for Health Care?

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Rx for Health Care?

Article excerpt

For years, black politicians, particularly the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have clamored for a national health care system, or at the very least, reforms making medical treatment more affordable. Their proposals, however, were usually labeled as liberal largess.

At long last, some type of health care reform is in the nation's future. But its structure and the impact it will have on the current system and on the already high tax burden can only be projected.

Historically, some Congress members found it easy to support the idea of health care reform, since the chance of legislation moving from bill to act was slim. Thus, members were free to propose change without fear of paying potentially high political or budgetary costs.

But now, as plans to restructure the health care system are hitting Congressional tables, Senators and Representatives--including Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members--have tough choices before them. They must consider not only the federal deficit, but also how much their constituents are willing to pay to receive national health care.

Health care hit the national consciousness during the 1992 presidential campaign. To increasing numbers of Americans, a lack of affordable health care had become a personal crisis, and legislators cited runaway costs as a threat to the national economy. In 1980, health care made up 9% of the gross domestic product (GDP). By 1992, it had grown to 13.4% of the GDP. Furthermore, it is projected to represent 17% of the GDP by 2000.

Upon election, Clinton showed his commitment to reform by appointing his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, to head the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. Black legislators are taking part in the process. Last March, Mrs. Clinton met with CBC Chairman Kweisi Mfume (D.-Md.) and others to discuss national health care proposals.

A number of liberal members of Congress, including many CBC members, support a plan similar to Canada's comprehensive health care plan. …

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