How John Edwards Ruined Healthcare Reform

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					Disgraced former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has been
in the news quite a bit lately. First, he admitted paternity of his
mistress' child; that revelation was followed by the publication of a
tell-all book by former aide Andrew Young that painted an unflattering
picture of the politician. Finally, he and his wife Elizabeth have
separated. The dissolusion of their marriage seems to parallel the
prospects of healthcare reform.      The downfall of Edwards could
partially explain why Democrats' attempt at expanding affordable health
insurance to all Americans has stalled. During the 2008 primary season,
Edwards was further left on the health care issue than either Hillary
Rodham Clinton or now-President Barack Obama. As a candidate, Edwards
called for universal healthcare reform. He supported the creation of
regional health care markets a public option that would compete with
private health insurance companies in hopes of lowering costs--as well as
increased regulation, employer mandates and subsidies, which made him a
darling among the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Some liberals
may have wanted a completely Canadian- or European-style single payer
system, but the well-groomed, suave Edwards was deemed more electable
than the short Rep. Dennis Kuchinich. At the time, his position was more
liberal than Obama's. His hype and support in the early primaries helped
push both candidates further towards that viewpoint.

     Even after he lost the Democratic primary, the Edwards family
continued to hold out hope that the former senator would be selected for
a position in the Obama administration. After all, fellow primary
opponent Clinton was appointed Secretary of State. In order for that to
be possible, they attempted to keep the seamy details of Edwards' affair
under wraps. Obviously, they were unsuccessful--reports of secret
payments to mistress Rielle Hunter (alleged campaign finance violations)
began to spread, hammering the final nail into the coffin of his
political hopes. With one of the most prominent advocates of the
government-run public option having squandered his voice, liberal
Democrats had less leverage against moderates who were against it. Some
people speculate that if Edwards was an adviser to the current
administration, Obama would have been more adamant about passing a
comprehensive health insurance reform bill including the public option,
and less likely to allow the Senate to drop it.     A position in the
current administration would likely have made John Edwards even more
egotistical and reckless. However, he would have had some influence in
pushing his pet issues. If only for the sake of his own ego (or his wish
that both Americas have affordable dental insurance to get teeth as
straight as his), he may have been more likely to stick his neck out as
opposed to letting Congress debate the issue for months. Despite the fact
that his "Two Americas" poverty rhetoric turned out to be phony, a
portion of the public was nevertheless convinced. Knowledge of his
horrible behavior has not improved the status of the uninsured. At this
point, he would be an even worse advocate for healthcare reform than Lady
Gaga would be a pitchwoman for Banana Republic. Still, many feel that the
issues haven't evaporated with his reputation.     While the recent book
The Politician portrays Elizabeth Edwards almost as negatively as her
husband, a more charitable interpretation would imply that she
participated in the later stages of the cover-up because figured her own
humiliation to be less important than what her husband (guided by her)
could do for the millions of Americans struggling with a lack of health
insurance. A desire to be the First Lady at any cost was certainly a part
of it, but Elizabeth's terminal cancer diagnosis made it unlikely that
she could survive for even a single term. Healthcare reform is a personal
issue for her, since health insurance companies consider breast cancer to
be a pre-existing condition and will refuse to cover treatment. Most
cancer patients are not married to rich ex-trial lawyers, and therefore
struggle to find affordable health insurance.     We will never know how
healthcare reform would have turned out if John Edwards had a little more
self-control.     (Image: Llima under CC 2.0)     Yamileth Medina is an
up and coming expert on Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform. She aims
to help people realize that they can find quality affordable health
insurance right now. Yamileth lives in Miami, FL.

Related Articles -
health insurance, healthcare reform, john edwards, elizabeth edwards,
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