Edwards would require health exams

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said on Sunday that his universal health care proposal would require that Americans go to the doctor for preventive care.

“It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”

He noted, for example, that women would be required to have regular mammograms in an effort to find and treat “the first trace of problem.” Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, announced earlier this year that her breast cancer had returned and spread.

Edwards said his mandatory health care plan would cover preventive, chronic and long-term health care. The plan would include mental health care as well as dental and vision coverage for all Americans.

“The whole idea is a continuum of care, basically from birth to death,” he said.

The former North Carolina senator said all presidential candidates talking about health care “ought to be asked one question: Does your plan cover every single American?”

“Because if it doesn’t they should be made to explain what child, what woman, what man in America is not worthy of health care,” he said. “Because in my view, everybody is worth health care.”

Edwards said his plan would cost up to $120 billion a year, a cost he proposes covering by ending President Bush’s tax cuts to people who make more than $200,000 per year.

Edwards, who has been criticized by some for calling on Americans to be willing to give up their SUVs while driving one, acknowledged Sunday that he owns a Ford Escape hybrid SUV, purchased within the year, and a Chrysler Pacifica, which he said he has had for years.

“I think all of us have to move, have to make progress,” he said. “I’m not holier-than-thou about this. … I’m like a lot of Americans, I see how serious this issue is and I want to address it myself and I want to help lead the nation in the right direction.”

He said he would not buy another SUV in the future.

The Ford Escape, the first hybrid SUV on the market, gets an estimated 36 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.


  1. Electric Bill

    Requiring health exams. That should get the “proud to be stupid” portion of the Bush base, which is most of the Busch base, animated. Like working to stop smoking, requiring motorcycle helmets, and all sorts of “good for you” ideas, the proof of Darwin’s theory of natural selection crowd will get their panties all in a knot over that. Just like the ignorant Bible thumpers who refuse to allow their daughters to receive the cervical cancer vaccine because it may free them up to have sex. Ridiculous but real to the ignorant.

  2. yarply

    Requiring health exams ……
    Will really make the “people” who love to be taken care of happy. They need someone to wipe their butts, because everyone knows its the governments job to take care of its moronic and imbecilic herd,, which mostly have a low intelligence ,,, and need to be told what to do. Hey, the government is there god.
    So while the government is in debt to its gills and they are wondering how they are going to pay for Social Security and medicare,, what this idiot Edwards and his “followers” want to do, is to add more to a list of governmental tits for its babies to suck on,,,and who cares if we have to tax everyone to death to do it.
    I guess the only choice Edwards believes in is no choice. Move over hitler, stalin and bush a new dictator wants your spot,, because he caresssssss.

  3. keith

    It would appear that many US politicians here have now joined the “love fest” for socialized medicine. And while so-called “universal health care” does have many positive aspects, my extended family’s personal experiences with such a “universal” system (in Canada) have shown that it is FAR from the “nirvana” people south of the border sometimes make it out to be.

    First of all, the “free” Canadian Health System only covers basic health care. While it does cover routine doctor visits and so-called “emergency” care visits to a hospital or clinic, the number of doctors available in the system is strictly controlled. So, finding (or keeping) a family doctor is sometimes all but impossible.

    What’s more, if you ARE fortunate enough to have a family doctor, getting a non-routine appointment to see him or her can be a major undertaking. During the height of cold and flu season, that process can sometimes take upwards of a week..or longer. And, unlike the USA where a pharmacy can call your family doctor to get one or more of your routine prescriptions re-written over the telephone, in Canada, you MUST physically schedule an appointment with (and actually visit) a doctor FIRST before that can happen.

    Furthermore, by law in Canada, there are no “fully private” doctors or hospitals in the country (except in Quebec…. plus, of course, for Members of Parliament)! So, if you are hospitalized for any length of time, having just government medical coverage means you’ll be subject to governmental rules regarding the conditions surrounding your care..such as sharing a ward with several other people.

    Most Americans might also be shocked to learn that prescription drugs are NOT covered in Canadian’s government-provided health care benefit! While prescription drugs DO cost a bit less in the drugstores in Canada than in the United States, they aren’t THAT much less! And now, with the Canadian dollar and the US dollar nearly at par value, many Canadians are actually paying MORE for their prescription drugs in real terms than their US counterparts.

    What’s more, in order to get prescription drug coverage (and other such “extras” Americans take for granted like a semi-private room in a hospital), most Canadians still must purchase expensive health insurance to “top up” their basic government coverage to bring it up to a minimal standard.

    So, in essence, Canadians pay for their medical coverage twice…first via (confiscatory) sales and other taxes for their basic health coverage, and then via very expensive, private “top up” insurance in an attempt to bring their basic government-provided health coverage up to the care, treatment and benefit standards most of us in the United States now routinely take for granted. However, even WITH this added private insurance coverage, the quality (and in particular, the timeliness) of the care our Canadian friends DO receive still falls woefully short.

    Few non-Canadians realize that Canada’s universal medical system is funded largely from provincial and federal sales taxes (which currently total upwards of 14% in most Provinces on everything you buy (except food) or have serviced). Because your health care is financed via such taxes, it also means that if you happen to be out of the country for more than 180 days at a stretch, you are assumed by the government to not be contributing your “fair share” of such taxes and are then subject to being dropped from the health system rolls upon your return. In most cases it takes upwards of several months for you to then become eligible for your “free” medical coverage and for it to begin again. If you get sick and need a doctor during that time, that’s just your tough luck because it was YOU who chose not to stay in Canada and pay your sales taxes on things. In the interim, you’ll just have to pay cash.

    So, needless to say, many Canadians who like to travel spend inordinate amounts of time trying to make sure they will only be out of the country for six months at a stretch (and in having to also find creative ways to prove that fact to the authorities upon their return).

    What’s more, a Canadian resident’s health coverage is only good while they are physically located in Canada. If they travel south of the border (or overseas) and need medical assistance while they are out of the Country, they must either purchase extremely expensive one-time “travel insurance” to cover these potential medical costs before they leave, or risk paying for that care (usually at the “non-insurance” (full) rate if it’s obtained in the USA) from out of their own pockets.

    Depending on one’s age (and/or one’s pre-existing conditions) such insurance can (and often does) run into the thousands of dollars for just a short trip. What’s more, if you happen to be elderly (over 80 for example), you may not even be able to obtain such insurance coverage AT ALL because most private insurers won’t take the risk of insuring you at anything approaching a reasonable premium.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of Canadians who travel infrequently simply can’t afford such expensive travel insurance because, in most cases that single premium would cost them more than what they have budgeted to pay for everything else on their vacations. So most Canadians simply take the risk and hope against hope that they (or a member of their family) won’t get sick while they are away from home.

    And while the general quality of medical care in Canada is excellent, GETTING IT in a timely fashion is something else again. In some provinces, the waiting time for a routine MRI can stretch upwards of six to eight months. My brother-in-law recently endured nearly a year of excruciating pain while waiting for major back surgery. And our grandson recently had to endure almost four months of intense pain caused by complications that were a direct result of having to wait for what would have been a simple hernia operation. In the interim, he couldn’t work

    Likewise, waiting times for non-life-threatening surgical procedures can be even longer. Two years ago, a good friend of mine in Canada met with his family doctor simply to set up an input appointment with an orthopedic surgeon for knee replacement surgery. That was in November 2005. At that time, the first available input appointment with an orthopedic surgeon was for April…of THIS year (2007)! Needless to say, he kept his appointment. But, at last check, he was STILL waiting for his surgery.

    Oh..and there’s one more thing. If someone wishes to immigrate to Canada, they also have to pass a health examination administered by a government-paid physician. If you fail this exam, or it’s discovered that you might require ongoing treatment for certain pre-existing conditions that the government determines might also have the potential to “break the bank” of the health care system…TILT!…you don’t get to immigrate.

    Fortunately, both my family and I are covered by US medical insurance in the USA. However, my doctor here reports that fully one quarter of his patients are now Canadians coming across the border…and paying cash…. to get their medical care from him.

    That simple fact, alone, speaks volumes!

    Now, granted, millions of people in the United States still don’t have health insurance. But, in the USA if you are truly ill and in need of urgent care, you won’t be turned away from a hospital emergency room simply because you can’t pay.

    So, in essence, we already HAVE a form of socialized medicine in this country because those of us who DO have private health insurance are now paying our doctors and hospitals confiscatory rates for even routine procedures to cover the bills of those who can’t.

    And, granted, people who can’t pay for their care will be hounded by health care creditors until they do finally “pay up” or make other arrangements. But at least they’ll be alive (and hopefully, well) while doing so.

    Unfortunately in Canada, even some people WITH supplementary health care insurance are, quite literally, DYING while waiting for THEIR so-called “free” health care.

  4. lexiedogmom

    Lexie Homewood
    Thanks for that, Keith. It appears that you know far more about the Canadian health care system than the average American. Good overview.

  5. Paolo

    Does anyone smell the rotten odor of “government/business partnership” in this whole “universal health care” charade?

    Let me spell it out for you. The medical industry LOVES the idea of government-paid health care; they get to do thousands, if not millions, more billable procedures than they otherwise would get to do in a free market system.

    As Edwards explained, women would be “required” (for example) to get mammograms every year. Otherwise (one assumes) the “single payor” system doesn’t work for you. Because, you see, you’ve been “irresponsible.”

    There is, by the way, a significant number of people who believe that many “standard” preventive measures–from vaccination to mammograms–are harmful. MY POINT HERE IS NOT TO ARGUE FOR OR AGAINST THE APPROPRIATENESS OF VACCINATION OR MAMMOGRAMS, BUT SIMPLY TO ARGUE THAT PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE A CHOICE. Under “universal health care,” such procedures would become “mandatory.”

    Why? Because the medical establishment says so.

    Give it time, folks. Eventually, hundreds of other “standard” medical procedures would become “mandatory.” Ritalin for your kid, Prozac for you, mercury-laced vaccines for everyone–you name it. All the while, the medical establishment will be gleefully collecting taxpayer’s (that is, your) money for every procedure.

  6. acf

    While I believe in the value of regular physicals, and understand Edwards’ goal of catching illnesses before they become serious, increasing health care costs, I am not a fan of him, or anyone else in government, telling me the terms of what I have to do to maintain my health. It’s a deal breaker for me, and I don’t care whether it’s arrived at by the carrot and stick method, or an outright mandate.

  7. keith

    ACF…I understand…and share… your view. Catching illnesses before they become serious is a noble goal.

    However, I can also tell you from first hand family experience that, at least under the government-run Canadian system, doctors are given very strict rules under which certain preventative procedures are allowed to be performed. In that sense, it’s money that drives who gets what preventive procedure, not whether a person should have one.

    And God help you if you happen to need such a procedure near the end of the fiscal year! Doctors in Canada are paid by the government for only so many visits and/or procedures in a year. Once that pot of money is gone, doctors tend to stop scheduling such procedures until more money is allocated for the next fiscal year.

    Or, to put it another way, Christmas is usually NOT a good time to get sick in Canada!

    Also, such things as a routine baseline colonoscopy…something most people over age 50 in the USA are urged to have at least once every 10 years (and that most US insurance plans will readily pay for) will ONLY be administered in Canada IF there is a direct family history of colon cancer, or if other, less invasive (spelled “cheaper”) tests indicate a person is a likely candidate to have the disease.

    Otherwise the Canadian government simply won’t fund it.

    Most family doctors in Canada would LOVE to have both the time (and to be routinely allowed) to perform such preventative procedures. The problem is that they are allocated only so much money to perform only so many procedures during a year. So, quite naturally, they will parcel out their scarce procedural allocation only to those people whom they believe are most in need.

    What’s more, because doctors are a scarce commodity in Canada to start with, and because the system they work under is SO horrifically overloaded, most doctors are usually unable to keep up with even the needs of their urgent or emergency care patients, let alone have the time left over to see people for elective procedures.

    Once again, universal health care sounds just dandy.

    And it is…in theory.

    However, if the way it has been implemented north of the border is any indication, such wonderful theory often defaults into an impersonal, government-run, and highly bureaucratic quota system.

    That is, the Canadian health system has since become an institution where who gets what care is based more on how much money is left in the “pot”, who in the health care system you happen to know, and/or how many people sicker than you are ahead of you in line.

    Sadly, under such a system, so-called “preventative” care is, of necessity, routinely relegated to the lowest possible priority.

  8. adamrussell

    We already require hospital emergency rooms to take people even if they cant pay, so it just makes sense that regular checkups would be more efficient than waiting till its an emergency. If you want one you should want the other.

  9. keith

    Yes, Adam…and that IS one of the benefits of a so-called “universal system”…. everyone has access to “regular checkups”.

    Unfortunately, in Canada, the problem arises when those checkups find something that requires further attention. Then, the wait times for a referral to a specialist (or for surgery) can be seemingly endless because THAT part of the health system is currently so horribly understaffed that it is clogged with patients waiting in line for such services.

    For example, several Canadian acquaintances of mine have had to wait upwards of several MONTHS to get results back for routine cancer biopsies. Needless to say, such waits can be (and usually are) emotionally and psychologically draining. But what is really inexcusable is that if the results later turn out to be positive, then the cancer has had that much longer to metastasize into other parts of one’s body while the person has been waiting for the test results to come back. If the system had been more responsive, they COULD have been spending that time undergoing treatment.

    The number of people who have actually died waiting for treatment in the Canadaian Health System is anyone’s guess because the government refuses to even discuss the matter. And, since they run the system, they make the rules.

    This is one of the main reasons why so many Canadians who can afford it are now regularly crossing the border to get such tests done in the States…and “paying through the nose” (usually in cash) for those tests to boot.

    It’s also interesting to note that the number one national issue on the minds of most Canadians these days ISN’T terrorism. Rather, it’s their and their family’s continued, timely access to the Canadian health system.

    This fact, too, speaks volumes!

  10. AnnS

    “It requires that everybody be covered. It requires that everybody get preventive care,” he told a crowd sitting in lawn chairs in front of the Cedar County Courthouse. “If you are going to be in the system, you can’t choose not to go to the doctor for 20 years. You have to go in and be checked and make sure that you are OK.”

    He noted, for example, that women would be required to have regular mammograms ”

    He must have skipped Constitutional Law that day.

    He proposes to:

    (1) Make insurance mandatory (complete with subsidies but also with penalties if you don’t enroll.)

    That is government action and the penalites for not enrolling are imposed by the government.

    (2) MAKE people get physicals incuding MAKING women get mammograms!

    Huge problem with this. The US S. Ct. long ago rues that an indiivudla has the right to refuse medical careor proceedures. (Came up in th context of right-to-die cases and life support.)

    Such a requirment as he is proposing is per se uncomstitutional.

    I believe that everyone should have access to affordable care.

    I vehemently oppose the idea that the ‘health police’ can insist that I have to go for medical exams and proceedures.

    It is none of his goddamn business if I choose not to obtain a diagnosis or care for a health problem.

    Edwards can stick his mammograms where the sun doesn’t shine.

    What would be next?

    Skip a flu shot because of the side-effects and get hauled into court?

    Get a diagnosis that you have a risk factor for heart disease and that you should take a anti-cholesterol drug, and if you choose not to take it because of the side-effects and risks to that drug, you will be fineed and jailed until you do?

    Complete idiot.

  11. yarply

    To AnnS, Right on.

    Of course I guess you can see where this would lead. They would want to know what you eat and would want to control that, because if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure it would be against there rules for you to eat foods which they deemed are bad for you. Also you would be required to exercise if they thought you were over weight or some other such nonsense. What it would boil down to is they would want to have total control over your life as to keep the cost down to the system and to protect you from yourself. Of course its all because they care for you so much.

  12. Steve Horn

    Interesting debate. With my current health care insurance I get a discount on my rate if I have regular checkups, maintain good health, don’t smoke, participate in fitness and weight control projects – which makes perfect sense.

    If a problem is caught early it’s far less expensive to treat – if you take care of yourself you get a better rate. If you decide to not take care of yourself, why should I have to pay for your problems when they become chronic?

    I guess I just don’t see the great evil of regular checkups –

  13. SEAL

    I don’t care what kind of system Canada or any other counrty has or what wonderful gee I hope this idea gets me elected some candidate comes up with because we already have the finest universal health care system in the world.

    It’s called Medicare. It covers every citizen automatically when they turn 65. Every person under medicare can determine their Own doctor and they can go whenever they feel the need. There are no excusions. Whatever the medical treatment needed, it is provided. Whatever medication is required is provided. There is a small co-pay for everything but that does not prevent treatment, it is almost always affordable and billed after the fact which allows the poor to pay a little at a time as they can afford. Doctors don’t have a problem with it, their offices seem to run quite normally and their incomes appear to keep them in fnacy houses and cars.

    Why can’t the entire nation be under the same system? It would eliminate the massive numbers of poor people clogging up our hospital emergency rooms every night of the week with crying babies running 102 temeratures having to wait 2-4 or 5 hours to see an ER doctor whose time is certainly better used treating the knife or gunshot or auto crassh victims stacking up in ambulances every night and causes them to make the walkin patients wait. When the poor person who brings their extremely sick child or adult with a broken arm to the ER finally does get to see a ER doctor, the policy/responsibility of the hospital is to stabalize, write a prescription that will cover them for two days and refer them to their own physician > out the door, next please.

    80% of those people will be back for the same process next week or take the cast off themselves because they cannot afford a doctor. The cost of one trip to the ER is about the same as 6-10 normal doctor visits. Those ER visits are paid by the tax payer. Not only could medicare for all save that money I am sure there are a few other places tax money could be diverted and requiring the wealty to pay their fair share of income tax plus eliminating all those “special” incentive” gimicks the corporations are wallowing in would be more than adequate to cover the rest to make Medicare a reality for all americans. Also, regular doctor visits, preventive medicince, and vacinations, would reduce the overal cost of treatment for most.

    Most medical expense in this country is for the over 65 crowd and children. We already have the over 65 group on it. So the added expense would not be that great. I see no problem with universal medicare being a reality with almost no upset to the medical profession and temendous benefit to the poor.

  14. pacplyer

    Warning ! Pandora’s Box!!!

    Don’t vote for this Socialist.

    What a terrible, terrible loss of individual freedom that dark day would dawn! “You are REQUIRED by the PARTY to submit your blood DNA for testing; i.e, invasive testing that you cannot refuse or you are kicked out of the program. Which will lead immediately to drug testing, DNA profiling, data sharing, and cancellation of any private life or property insurance if it is determined that you have tested positive in a hereditary or evironmentally high risk catagory.

    I smell the ugly heavy hand of big Pharmacuticals, HMO’s and Insurance companies, who all would profit if Edward’s nightmare “Gatica” comes true.

    Gee, What a wonderful Pandora’s Box you all have opened!

    Are all you people who willingly swallow this propaganda from the old U.S.S.R or something?

    Where is your outrage? Are you even Americans anymore?

    Helll, while we’re at it, why don’t we just download you harddrive, google search patterns and email and REQUIRE that that information be submitted to a government shrink to further eliminate the possiblity that you are doing something “unhealthful” to you and the commie party!

    There’s only one conclution I can draw about this new Fortune-500 police state you’ve all created: Your Republicrats (a new “merged” party) are all on the same page. What is good for big business is good for you. And since Large Multinational CEO’s now dictate what the political puppets running for office will say, we can distill this down further to:

    “The Government Always knows best.”

    It’s time now to just pick up your hammer and sickle and goosestep your way right into cellblock H.

    H is for Helll by the way.

    pacplyer – out