What will health care reform entail for the futures of the nearly 15 million college students nationwide?
The current health care reform debate taking place in Washington could very well affect our livelihoods more than any other demographic. Currently, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 47 million uninsured Americans or 20 percent of the population under the age of 65. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), health care costs cover 16 percent of G.D.P. and is expected to increase to 31 percent by 2035. Consequently, the nation’s deficit continues to rise leaving our generation in danger of sheer financial crisis if action is not taken.
We must not lobby for just any reform, but smart, financially viable reform. Though it is not the only alternative, the public option is the best guarantee for lasting restructuring. It would create competition with private insurance and weaken the monopoly of big insurance in the current system. Furthermore, it would allow an entire new income bracket of hardworking Americans to purchase health insurance and realize their universal right to quality health care. Most importantly, it would bring much-needed financial stabilization to the health care system.
Adversaries have referred to the proposed government-run program as a socialist government takeover of medicine. The term “socialized medicine” was created by advocates of the American Medical Association in 1947 in opposition to President Harry Truman’s health care initiative. Americans were fearful of government intervention then and rightfully remain so today; however, no one would argue that the status quo is sustainable.
Ironically, Medicare remains one of the largest socialized medical programs in the world. This contradiction is also evident in the single-payer systems of the medical departments of the Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force. The same people who enjoy, or will soon enjoy, the benefits of these programs are the most vocal opponents of reform.
As fiery cable TV and radio personalities take to the airwaves, where are the voices of college students? The 1960s saw the nation’s youth take up causes such as Women’s Rights and the Civil-Rights movement, but the present generation appears more engrossed in pop-culture and the latest electronic gadget than enacting meaningful societal change.
As President Ronald Reagan proclaimed at the 1981 Notre Dame commencement ceremony, “We need you; we need your youth, your strength and your idealism, to help us make right what is wrong.”
No matter where you stand on the issue, it is our moral and civic duty as Americans to assume a role in the debate; if we do not speak out, who will?
Daniel Medina is senior majoring in broadcast journalism and political science. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.