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ISSUE 121 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/28/2007

PAC speaker Marty discusses healthcare

By Bryan Beaudoin
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 28, 2007

To kick off their line-up of speakers and events, St. Olaf's Political Awareness Committee (PAC) hosted a dinner with State Senator John Marty. While Marty focused mainly on the dire state of healthcare in the United States, he also touched on other topics such as campaign finance reform, corruption in politics, and the environment. The majority of his speech, however, was devoted to addressing what he saw as a healthcare system that needed, according to Marty, "desperate reform."

Senator Marty backed up his arguments with expansive statistics. "Over 18,000 people will die each year from lack of adequate medical coverage. The average person's annual healthcare bill is about $6,500, two times that of Switzerland, the next most expensive country," Marty said.

Senator Marty vehemently argued for change in what he interpreted as the major obstacles in the healthcare system. Such obstacles include powerful pharmaceutical lobbyists as well as lack of plan for total revamp of the system.

Though Marty placed more emphasis on what was wrong than on a comprehensive plan to rectify the dysfunctional healthcare system, the senator did articulate two directions in which healthcare in the United States could move. One is an extensively privatized system where healthcare is bought and sold like a commodity. In his opinion, such a system would help bring down prices for some and reduce the massive amount of costly bureaucracy, but would not make healthcare available to the entire population. To solve this, Senator Marty advocates a community-run system that would be handled much like police service.

"When someone breaks into your house and you dial 911, they don't ask you what type of coverage you have or tell you 'well, your plan only covers fire,'" Marty said.

He stated that he does not believe Hillary Clinton's plan would solve the problems and failures mounting in the healthcare system. He argued that her plan focuses only on the uninsured, even though the uninsured are not the only ones whose financial security is jeopardized by rising healthcare costs. He also argued that preventative practices such as vaccinations would help cover the large price tag associated with a federally run system.

Many students may think that healthcare is an issue from which they are immune; their interest may only lie in the ways healthcare fits into the big picture of Democrat vs. Republican. PAC Coordinator Laura Groggel '08 said, "Probably right now most students are rather apathetic, but seniors who are entering the job field are probably starting to have to think about what type of jobs will provide them with healthcare."

PAC hopes to provide a wide variety of speakers this year. Next on the list for PAC is General Sada, an Iraqi General who served under Saddam Hussein's regime and is now assisting the United States.

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