Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, discussed the necessary ingredients of a successful health care plan at Ross Hall Monday evening, but she remained mum about her husband’s scandal.
The noted health care advocate, who has battled breast cancer and endured the fallout from her husband’s admitted affair, looked ahead to the prospects of health care under a new presidential administration.
Edwards said Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s health care policy is a failure because it forces patients to decide which plan is best for them. She said choosing a health care plan is not a simple task for the average American without the help of a doctor.
“(Health care) is not a refrigerator. It is not a television set,” Edwards said. “We can’t look at a picture and say, ‘Oh, that would fit in my house.’ “
Edwards noted that most people visit their doctors only after they have discovered they have a serious health issue.
“We are really stupid about the way we spend our health care dollars,” she said.
Edwards said she received one bad mammogram in the 1980s that did not detect cancer in her breast. She said she did not follow up with routine check-ups because she did not think she was at risk for the disease.
She called on the government to require screenings and wellness treatments that “McCain and (Gov. Sarah) Palin talk about, but they don’t actually budget for.”
In addition to government intervention, Edwards said investment in research is key for an effective health care plan.
She also acknowledged that the health care plan of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama is not perfect either. Obama has said his plan will bring cheap health care that is affordable for many people, she said.
“It’s a chicken and an egg problem there,” said Edwards, adding that the plan will be cheaper if everyone buys it, but Obama cannot guarantee that everyone will support it.
Edwards called an ideal health care plan one that would be “affordable and accessible.”
An audience member asked Edwards if she believed health care was a natural right for human beings. Edwards said it is.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not possible without good health care,” she said.
Despite the numerous problems inherent in the U.S. health care system, Edwards said she has hope for the future of health care. She said she trusts health care professionals and said there will continue to be medical innovations like new machinery or types of therapy.
“The people who go into medicine blow me away,” she said. “They want to find an answer. I don’t think we’re going to see an end to innovation.”
Students in attendance said they were impressed by Edwards’s presentation.
Freshman Kayla Miller said Edwards’s lecture was informative and interesting.
She said, “If I had heard her speak before the presidential election in 2004 and was able to vote, I would’ve voted for her husband.”