Kennedy Legacy Worth Remembering, Regardless of Polotics

Hanna Barker

Staff Reporter

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, it is likely that you have heard of the death of Senator Edward P. Kennedy, more commonly known by his nickname, Ted Kennedy. If you somehow missed this unfortunate turn of events, here is a brief recap: Ted Kennedy died on Aug. 18 after a 15-month struggle with brain cancer. But why was he important, you ask? Besides the notoriety earned from the Chappaquidick affair and the conflict with the Catholic Church surrounding his pro-life political views, Kennedy was a figurehead of the Democratic Party. He was a proponent of the Head Start program, Title IX, and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, as well as over 2,500 other bills that he deemed important to Americans.

Now, I am no Democrat. That’s not to say I’m a Republican either. Hesitant to swear allegiance to any particular party, I try to form my own opinions, issue by issue. I’m just your average college freshman, fitting in time to watch the news between classes and studying and adjusting to college life. Political views aside, I feel that Kennedy was an influential man, especially in the arena of national healthcare, which he deemed the cause of his life. Regardless of your political leanings, it is difficult to deny that this nation has issues within its healthcare system. Healthcare premiums are at an all-time high. By 2025, it is possible that one quarter of the national economy will be somehow tied up in the healthcare system. In light of the current downward economic spiral, how our tax dollars will be spent is a vital issue for students like ourselves. We will be entering the “real world” quite soon, and it will be our money that is paying for, well, pretty much anything the government tries to do. Would you prefer to squander tax dollars on the current healthcare system when a reformed version of it would theoretically be more cost-efficient?

President Barack Obama has proposed to reform the healthcare system, promote scientific and technological advancements, and improve preventative care (see for more information about healthcare and other issues that the President plans to address). This involves the very vague plans to reduce the growth of health care costs for both the government and businesses, protect families from financial woes because of costs, guarantee choice of doctors and health plans, invest in wellness and prevention, improve quality of care and patient safety, and assure affordable coverage for all Americans. Sounds good to me.

It is undeniable that the current system has some major flaws, and the Obama administration proposes changes that superficially seem pleasant and beneficial. However, these are all just final products, purely end results. Getting there will not be so simple. The President’s Budget for 2010 sets aside $635 billion over ten years to help finance this healthcare reform. I don’t know about you, but to me, that is a lot of money, especially within our current economic context. There are additional controversial aspects of the proposed legislation. Some people fear that this is pushing America in a socialist direction. Others worry that private insurers could go out of business because of the creation of more competition in the health insurance market, because while businesses must fight to stay afloat, the government can just accrue more debt.

Something I particularly find issue with is the concept of community rating, which basically means that all patients will pay the same rates regardless of age or medical condition. If all goes well, I will graduate from this fine institution with decent health. As a fairly healthy, young individual with an entry-level salary, I will not want to pay significantly more money than necessary for my coverage just so someone else with more health problems can pay significantly less. I also worry about bureaucratic red tape that could hinder the efficacy of the health care system.

Feel free to disagree with me. In fact, I welcome the opposition. It is the ability to formulate and express our own opinions that makes this country so great. Ted Kennedy was not known so much for his opinions, but for what he did with them. So in the spirit of the late Senator Kennedy, I challenge you to stand up for what you believe in. In the words of Mahatma Ghandi, I ask that you “be the change you wish to see in the world.”