WEB UPDATE: Sen. Clinton tackles health care at Jack Morton Auditorium

Posted Thursday, May 24, 2:06 p.m.

Health care premiums are set to double in the next decade unless serious reforms are taken, said presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) in a statistics-packed speech at Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday morning. Speaking to a standing-room only crowd, Clinton laid out a seven-point plan to transform a system that she called “ineffective and outdated.”

Americans currently spend 15.9 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product on health care, an amount that vastly exceeds all other nations, and one that could increase to 20 percent by 2016. Clinton’s plan focused on reducing unnecessary costs and getting help to those who need it, with the ultimate goal of providing affordable health care to all Americans.

“Every day, parents have to choose between paying their own premiums, or their children’s,” Clinton said.

Clinton’s plan included proposals to lower the cost of prescription drugs, enact medical malpractice reform, and create medical homes for patients who suffer from chronic and severe illnesses such as diabetes. She also proposed giving people access to preventive care, something the insurance companies generally do not cover. In what was a recurring theme throughout the speech, Clinton discussed the need to pressure insurance providers.

“All insurance providers who are participating in a government program like Medicare would have to cover preventive care if they want to keep doing business with the federal government,” she said.

Clinton also proposed turning all medical records into electronic files, a move she claimed would both save $77 billion annually and reduce doctor error.

“There is no reason why health records can’t be stored on a computer accessible from a doctor’s office or hospital.”

As president, Clinton said she would expand the number of insurance providers from which individuals and businesses select coverage. She also promised to crack down insurance companies that discriminate against individuals because of their medical conditions.

“I’m going to end the practice of cherry-picking once and for all,” she said.

But while she said the government should pass widespread reforms, people need to do their own part as well.

“All of us must take responsibility for taking care of ourselves,” she said.

Clinton is no stranger to the health care debate. During her husband’s first term as president in 1993, she led the efforts to enact a universal health care plan. Dubbed “Hillarycare,” the plan was met with stringent opposition and eventually defeated.

“I’ve tangled with this issue before, and I’ve got the scars to prove it,” she said in the speech Wednesday.

Clinton also spoke of the need to create a bipartisan political coalition that can overcome the resistance to universal health care.

“I know all of these policies will run into opposition from those who oppose change,” she said. “But I think Americans are ready for change.”

Many of those in attendance at Clinton’s speech were GW medical students. According to Director of Media Relations Tracy Schario, more than half the tickets to the event were given to the medical school. Reaction to Clinton’s speech and ideas among the medical students was mixed.

“I thought it was excellent. She hit on the points at the heart of the issue,” said third-year student John Faust. “If health care was the only issue in a presidential election, I might vote for (Clinton).”

Shawn Desai, a third-year student, disagreed.

“I don’t think she has any concrete points,” he said. Desai added that he would have liked to hear more about medical malpractice reform.

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