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August 03, 1994 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1994-08-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

OPIN ION

EDITOR IN CHIEF
James M. Nash
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
Patrick J. Javid
Jason S. Lichtstein

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan.

4

Unsigned editorials present the opinion of a majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other cartoons, signed articles and letters
do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Daily.

President Clinton put serious health care re-
form on the political map. His State of the Union
threat to veto any bill that fals short of universal
coverage effectively quashes opponents' schemes
to produce an incremental bill so incremental that
its effects would not be seen in our lifetime. For
that, he deserves kudos.
But when push comes to shove on the floor of
Congress in the upcoming weeks, President
Clinton will become merely an observer. The
baton of leadership will be passed on to the two
Democrat leaders - Richard Gephardt and
George Mitchell. They will substantively impact
the way every American receives health care.
All too often, universal health care becomes
obscured in lofty principles and high rhetoric. It
takes no political spine (but much chutzpah) for
Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole to decry all Demo-
cratic proposals as "socialized medicine" or "big
government." Nor is it difficult for liberal Demo-
crats to gain a sympathetic audience by calling
Republicans "uncaring" or "indifferent" to the
plight of real Americans.
What takes courage is laying the old ortho-
doxies to rest. The bill put forward by House
Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) last
week does precisely that. Real healthcarereform
can be split up into three components, in all of

Health Care Reform:
Gephardt Style
House leader's plan blends best elements

which the Gephardt plan receives high marks.
Universal coverage
Universal coverage is a must. The indigent
and the affluent are already insured in this coun-
try. It is the hard-working middle class, those
families that play by the rules, that are being
squeezed out of the current system. Should any
American be forced to choose between going on
welfare to receive health care for his or her
children, or quitting his or her job? The answer is
fairly obvious.
Perhaps even more important, without uni-
versal coverage phased in over a period of time,
the number ofuninsured will skyrocket. The Dole
plan, as it should, forces insurers to cover indi-
viduals with pre-existing conditions. However, if

you include a large new segment of the popula-
tion, without coupling this with universal cover-
age, insurers will hike their rates, forcing more
working Americans to drop their insurance. The
Gephardt plan achieves the goal of universal
coverage in a reasonable amount of time: 1999.
Cost containment
No plan can stifle the rapid growth of Medic-
aid, or increase competition so that insurance
premiums are held in check.
The Dole plan would slash Medicaid without
replacing it. The result, which has been noted by
a bipartisan National Governors Association,
would be to place a huge new burden in the laps
of the states.
The Gephardt plan is far from perfect in this

respect. But it does provide some answers. If the
competitive mechanisms it puts in place fail to
curtail costs within five years, a hard trigger
would allow the government to impose moderate
fee schedules for doctors and hospitals in regio*
where health spending exceeds federal targets.
Consumer choice
Here is where the Gephardt plan distinguishes
itself. Instead of'relying on alliances,'it creates
Medicare Part C. Simply put, a system with
Medicare as its foundation would work far better
than the present system. Together with employer
mandates, Medicare Part C would only insure 50
percent of Americans. However, it would allow
previously uninsured Americans to gain cover
age, while leaving the present method of insu
ance in place for the other half of the nation.
In short, the Gephardt plan relies on existing
systems and creates no new bureaucracies. The
Mitchell plan, with a panoply of soft triggers that
wouldn't guarantee universal coverage for over a
decade, is better than any Republican alternative.
But it just doesn't provide the answers most
Americans are looking for. Why not get the best
of both worlds? Support the Gephardt plan, an
you will be supporting guaranteed insurance fW
the working poor and guaranteed freedom of
choice for the already insured.

Homicidal hypocrites
Pro-lifers must disown violence as tactic

Radiati'on deception?
'U' community deserves to know the truth

n a repeat of history, a physician and his
escort were brutally murdered outside of
an abortion clinic last week in Pensacola, the
second such incident within 17 months in the
Florida town. These anti-choice "crusaders"
must learn that a social issue should remain
debated through the channels of public policy
and the democratic process - not through
the gun sights of an excommunicated Catho-
lic priest, wielding a loaded weapon.
This page sincerely respects the view-
points of those who advocate an anti-abor-
tion philosophy. Many have moral, philo-
sophical and religious problems with the
procedure. This is understandable, and these
individuals are more than welcome not to
choose an abortion for themselves. The con-
flict arises when those of an anti-choice bent
attempt to influence policy and subvert de-
mocracythroughany meanspossible. Block-
ading the entrances of abortion clinics, for
example, was a favorite strategy of anti-
choice crusaders. Thatis,untilCongressright-
fully realized this act violated a woman's
constitutional right to an abortion and passed
measures to counteract those on the right.
The extreme extension of such unlawful pro-
test is the killing of abortion providers -
resulting in three deaths in the last year and a
half. That it has come to this is a frightening
thought in itself. Moreover, as reported over
the weekend, the leaders ofthe nation's Catho-

lic Church have held conferences to discuss
whether the premeditated murder of an abor-
tion provider is morally justified. These lead-
ers - who avidly preach a religion of love
and compassion around the world - sat
down and talked about slaying doctors to
achieve their political goal. The hypocrisy is
clear: to end the practice of abortion (which
by law in this country is not murder), several
Catholic leaders advocate their own style of
vindicative homicide.
This violence must come to an end before
more innocent individuals are killed for a
single group's political cause. Law
enforcement agencies, bothlocal and federal,
must police abortion protests more effectively
and aggressively monitor those demonstra-
tors who tend to be violent. A complaint was
issued a few weeks ago in Pensacola against
the alleged murderer - a complaint that
could have saved two lives if followed up
correctly. Moreover, it is up to the nation's
leaders to call for an end to this tragic epi-
demic. President Clinton and Attorney Gen-
eral Janet Reno, have made it clear that,
regardless of religious belief, the murder of
an abortion provider is not justified and will
be prosecuted to the fullest extent.
The debate over abortionrights is far from
over.However, the debate must bekept where
it belongs and not placed in the hands of
violent fanatics.

A s both federal investigators and Univer-
sity officials begin their investigation
into the radiation testing that was performed
at the University Medical Center as late as the
1960s, anumberofimportantquestionsloom.
First, were the tests voluntary or involuntary,
and how much information was provided to
the subjects? Second, if the tests were injuri-
ous enough to cause long-termhealth effects,
what sort of compensation do the patients
deserve? And third, were the tests part of top-
secret government research?
When an individual goes into a hospital,
that person expects to be treated for illnesses
andinjuries.We expect the doctors andnurses
there to do everything they can to help us. We
don't expect them to injure us or expose us to
any kind of unnecessary risks - and this is
precisely why the public needs to know
whether the radiation tests were done volun-
tarily. If the patients were not fully aware that
they were being given doses of radioactive
substances, then these studies will stand as a
permanent stain on the University's moral
and scientific record.
Also, federal investigators should decide
whether, and to what extent, patients deserve
to be compensated for the injuries that the
tests may have caused them. University Gen-
eral Counsel Elsa Kircher Cole maintains
that the hospital has not been the subject of
any suits stemming from the tests. But how

potent and damaging were the tests? If they
caused injury, pain or suffering, the victims
and their families must be compensated. And
it is the responsibility of both government
investigators and the University to release
this information.
One last point: As deplorable as it is that
people were the subjects of these "whole-
body" radiation tests, the set of experiment
were undoubtably necessary for the expan-
sionof scientific knowledge at the time. After
all, the data gained from the experiments
contributed to the pool of knowledge that
inspectors now draw on to determine the
limits of safe radiation exposure to humans.
The case may be that there was informed
consent,andthatminimalphysiologicaldam-
age resulted from the tests. Still, regardless of
the scientific lessons unearthed, this know
edge would be illegitimate if obtained se-
cretly.
Investigators must get to the bottom of
this and find out what really happened. The
testsmayhave benefittedscienceimmensely,
yet it is imperative that the amount of damage
caused to these human guinea pigs, and their
level of consent, be uncovered. Until this
happens, the controversy will rightfully li
ger among the public and University commu
nity. Progress in the name of science is one
thing, exploiting non-consenting human be-
ings is another.

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