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Health care: Human right for all

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former general and Secretary of State Colin Powell differs from most Republicans. He doesn't swallow Tea Party extremism or help-the-rich principles. Instead, he advocates aid for average families.

Powell, a prostate cancer survivor, told a Seattle assembly on prostate cancer that he wants universal, single-payer, national medical insurance for everyone.

"I'm not an expert in health care, or Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, or however you choose to describe it," he was quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal, "but I do know this: I have benefited from that kind of universal health care in my 55 years of public life.  And I don't see why we can't do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing."

Powell elaborated on ABC News: "I think universal health care is one of the things we should really be focused on, and I hope it will happen. Whether it's Obamacare or Son of Obamacare, I don't care. As long as we get it done."

Bravo. Health care should be a human right for all U.S. citizens, just as it is in most advanced democracies. It's shameful that America's for-profit medicine system still leaves millions of families in limbo, vulnerable to bankruptcy from illness or accident.

President Obama's historic 2010 reform was a bold attempt to cover 30 million more less-privileged Americans. It has been opposed bitterly by Republicans, who cast more than 40 House votes to repeal it. But it seems to be surviving -- hurrah.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., imposed one beneficial change in the Affordable Care Act. It requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium money on medical treatment -- instead of sky-high executive salaries -- or pay refunds to subscribers.

This week, Rockefeller noted that his provision has forced insurers to refund $1.5 billion to Americans -- including $2.7 million to West Virginians.

"This year alone, more than 16,000 West Virginians with private insurance coverage should receive rebates, averaging $374 per family," he said, adding that 4,200 small businesses in the state enjoyed premium reductions averaging $2,500 each.

Eventually, the ACA should be improved until it becomes complete universal care for all. In the meantime, it's a landmark advance that someday will be cherished as a boon for America


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