Dukakis Calls for Mandates

Former Governor Advocates Universal Health Coverage

Despite mounting opposition, President Clinton should stick to his campaign pledge of universal health care coverage, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis told an audience of about 250 at the Institute of Politics yesterday.

The 1988 Democratic presidential nominee also outlined the history of national health care, as well as his hopes and fears as the debate in Washington draws to a close.

Dukakis stressed the importance of universal health coverage by drawing an analogy to the law requiring drivers to possess auto insurance.

He also wondered aloud how the United States could assume a place among advanced industrialized nations without guaranteeing health care to all citizens. Even South Africa, Dukakis stressed is on its way towards a national health care system.

"If Germany can do it, if Canada can do it, if even South Africa can do it, what the hell is wrong with us?" the former governor said.


Dukakis painted America's current health care system as inefficient, noting that the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product spent on health care is twice as much the U.S. as in other nations.

Dukakis said universal coverage is the answer to reducing inefficiency and high costs.

And the opposition of many on Capitol Hill to universal health care is entirely hypocritical, Dukakis said.

Dukakis said critics such as Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) should be met with one question: "Senator, you've had comprehensive health care for years; why shouldn't every American have what you have?"

Dukakis said he strongly advo- cates an employer mandate based system in whichemployers must insure their employees andemployees must contribute.

As a prototypical model for his plan, theformer governor cited Hawaii. Dukakis said hewitnessed the success of the program firsthandwhile teaching in the state.

And he said the fears that small businesseswould be hurt by employer mandates should beallayed by Hawaii's high small business start-uprate.

Adding that he "hoped to set the stage in a waythat will bring us back to the fundamentalissues," Dukakis also outlined a history of thenational health care debate.

He began with the Theodore Roosevelt, class of1880, who introduced the idea of national healthcare. He proceeded to outline the proposals offormer presidents Harry S. Truman and Richard M.Nixon, and concluded with an overview of thecurrent debate on Capitol Hill and the optionsbefore Congress.

Dukakis also launched an attack on theinsurance industry.

"One half of Americans cannot select their owndoctor," Dukakis said. "The insurance companiesscour the market looking for healthy 23-year olds.If anyone has been denying the American peoplechoice, it's the insurance industry."

Nicole Coetzee, a Summer school student fromFlorida, said she understood more about the issuessurrounding a national health-care system afterthe speech.

"He was very entertaining as well asmind-opening," she said. "He cited a number ofprograms and statistics I had never heard before.I have a very high opinion of him now.

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