Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Ford Bell on Universal Health Care

Say what you will about Ford Bell being behind in early polls, he's not going anywhere without a solid fight for the DFL endorsement. From US Newswire:

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 21 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Ford Bell today again challenged candidates in the U.S. Senate race to "take the pledge" to introduce universal single-payer health insurance if elected. The DFL candidate promised at a candidate forum on November 19 to make it his first official act, and asked his rivals in the race to do the same. So far, none of them have.

"Health care costs should be the first priority for our next Senator, as they are for so many middle-class Minnesota families," Bell said. "Too many are being forced to choose between medicine, food or heat, or are faced with losing all they have worked a lifetime for because a family member becomes ill. The time is now for Mark Kennedy, Amy Klobuchar and Patty Wetterling to join me in taking a stand, or to explain to Minnesotans why they won't."

Bell, the former head of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation said that while the U.S. health care system works well at the top, millions of Americans have inadequate or no health insurance. "We spend more on health care per person than any other country, twice as much as Canada, but we trail most of the developed world in life expectancy and infant mortality," said Bell.

He added "the problem is not that we don't spend enough, it is that too much of what we spend is either wasted or goes into the pockets of people like Bill Frist." Bill Frist, the Republican Senate majority leader, is a major shareholder in HCA, a for- profit hospital chain. "The for-profit health care system is broken, and it is hurting American business and the American people," Bell said.

A good challenge to make: it puts his DFL opponents on the spot, and has the appearance of forcing them to either A) take Bell's stand, turning him into the leader, or B) look like they don't care about health care. In the current national climate, it also places him firmly against the entrenched Republican majority in Washington, most especially Senator I-just-had-a-hunch-my-stock-in-HCA-was-about-to-drop-so-I-sold-it Frist. Although I'm not a huge fan of trying to push politicians into making pledges of any sort, this looks like a shrewd political move on the part of Bell's campaign.

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