Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Kennedy Plan: The Dream Shall Never Die

Senator Edward Kennedy
February 22, 1932 – August 25, 2009
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
--Senator Ted Kennedy
1980 Democratic National Convention
Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time....

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.
--President Barack Obama, on the passing of Ted Kennedy
Quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American…will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years....

We have to cut the costs of health care. For families who've seen health-insurance premiums more than double—from an average of less than $6,000 a year to nearly $13,000 since 1999—one of the most controversial features of reform is one of the most vital. It's been called the "public plan." Despite what its detractors allege, it's not "socialism." It could take a number of different forms. Our bill favors a "community health-insurance option." In short, this means that the federal government would negotiate rates—in keeping with local economic conditions—for a plan that would be offered alongside private insurance options. This will foster competition in pricing and services. It will be a safety net, giving Americans a place to go when they can't find or afford private insurance, and it's critical to holding costs down for everyone....

I believe the bill will pass, and we will end the disgrace of America as the only major industrialized nation in the world that doesn't guarantee health care for all of its people.
--Senator Edward Kennedy, Newsweek, July 18, 2009

For so many years, Ted Kennedy has been a politician we could count on not only to do the right thing but to inspire right action. He was a passionate advocate for justice and equity. He was a great leader, and he will remain an inspiration to many.

Senator Kennedy called health care reform the cause of his life, and he considered the public option to be one of "several elements that are essential to any health-reform plan worthy of the name."

I agree with Senator Robert Byrd: Let's honor Teddy Kennedy's great legacy and name the health care reform bill, replete with the public option, after him. Let's call it the Kennedy Plan. And better still, let's get this thing through Congress and enacted into law.

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