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Universal Health Care and the Selection of a Vice President

10/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Universal Health Care and the Selection of a Vice President
Why McCain should have picked Romney over Palin

Last December, I got to live through the Writers' Guild of America's strike. What they forgot about in the strike is the collateral damage it caused, and I was one of them. Working for myself, finances are always iffy, and the strike made things even worse. If it were not for the generosity of my parents, I would have lost my health insurance. A former classmate of mine from Hofstra actually wanted me to move in with her, because she lives in Massachusetts and I would qualify for healthcare and it would be affordable. She reminded me that if I needed some bright lights and big city, I could easily drive to New York.

If McCain were really looking to pick up dissatisfied Clinton supporters, he would have opted for someone with similar policies and not similar body parts. Romney's healthcare plan has worked so successfully in Massachusetts, residents, like my good friend, are actually encouraging people to move to the Commonwealth. Palin supports removing the current Certificate of Need (CON) Program in the State of Alaska, which her own research committee decided that it was better not to remove, but rather revise.

The CON program is designed to restrain health care facility costs and allow for the coordinated planning of new services and health care facilities. It is similar to a system that should have been in place with the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It monitors the market, to ensure that there is no egregious treatments and unnecessary billing. The CON laws are one of the ways, which the states seek to reduce overall health and medical costs. There was a study by Duke University, which discovered that CON programs are clearly and consistently associated with a reduction in acute medical care spending. The big three automakers, not known for being consumer friendly until they absolutely have to, consider CON states when deciding on locations for new plants and facilities. Chrysler found that per employee healthcare costs were substantially lower than in non-CON states, sometimes as much as 164%. GM has found that CON jurisdictions are at least one third less than non-CON jurisdictions.

What removal of CON regulations does is create more healthcare choices for the individual, making the argument that the market would prevail. As with the sub-prime mortgage crisis, we know that the market needs to be constantly watched over and monitored. All removal of CON laws really does is create more beds to fill, more doctors to charge patients, and more unnecessary testing and procedures, bills from which are passed onto the insurance companies - if there is insurance - and also to the patient. In the end we, as consumers, lose.

With more of our income tied up in unnecessary healthcare costs, we are not free to pursue the American Dream that has been promised to us since the signing of the Constitution. Jefferson only paraphrased John Locke, with his statement concerning "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". Locke's original quote was "life, liberty and property". The basis of our democracy comes from the writings of John Locke, and he realized that private property was the path to freedom for individuals. With their own property, individuals gain a foundation upon which to build a life, and not be dependent on a governing body. We, as Americans, are becoming more and more consumed with medical debt, and the realization of the American Dream is slipping away from us.

Massachusetts's House Speaker, Sal DiMasi, said it best about Romney's healthcare system, ""It (Massachusetts) was supposed to be a community of people where laws were made for the common wealth. That's why we became a commonwealth." Romney's plan was based on the fact that uninsured individuals still do receive healthcare, and that healthcare costs the government millions of unnecessary dollars. If these individuals were actually covered under a universal healthcare policy, the costs to the taxpayers would be reduced. People would also be receiving more preventative care rather than emergency services, reducing costs even further.

Romney correctly assumed that these billions being spent on the uninsured could easily help the poor purchase insurance. He also knew that they should be able to pay what they can afford, with the state subsidizing the rest. This concept was so successful, it received bi-partisan support in both houses, as well as attracting a coalition of business leaders, healthcare advocates, clergymen, hospital CEOs, and, best of all, the lower income individuals who were going to gain from this policy.

Romney's plan insists that every individual be insured, be it through work or individually. No one will be turned down or offered a price they cannot afford. The price will be based on ability to pay. The more you make, the more you pay for healthcare. Lower income individuals could easily afford health care and, as a result, are staying healthier.

I know this first hand. My friend Matthew was living in New York City and struggling to pay for health care. He had lost his job and could not afford COBRA on unemployment. When his unemployment ran out he was forced to move home with his mother in Massachusetts, a choice he had initially not wanted to make. Now he calls me, insisting that I move in with him to reduce my health care costs under this wonderful system. He hears about my struggles with medical debt and insists I make the move - he even offers a bedroom in his own home. He explained to me how he is able to afford all of his necessary treatments for HIV and how affordable it is for someone in the lower income bracket.

Clinton supporters believed in her not because she was a woman but because of what she fought for. I personally stuck behind her until the bitter end because, as a person living with AIDS, her plan would help me have a better life. Romney's plan would have also helped me do that. If McCain gets elected, I am not sure what my future holds. I do not want to continue to make choices like do I go on my doctors' appointments or do I make a car payment.

In spite of the fact I am a person living with AIDS, I, too am entitled to the American Dream, just like everyone else. A healthcare plan that favors the well financed will not help me achieve it.