Clinton calls for universal health care in Danville

DANVILLE — Former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday called for universal health care and renewed efforts toward solving the opioid crisis claiming lives across the U.S.

“Clearly, what we are doing is not working,” said Clinton, the keynote speaker at the Geisinger National Health Care Symposium.

Clinton and former Vermont governor and National Democratic Committee Chairman Howard Dean spoke on the opioid issue and other health care-related topics to media and medical professionals at Geisinger’s Danville campus.

“We have to recognize this is a symptom of a lot of personal and community disconnection,” Clinton said of the opioid epidemic.

Too many people who become addicts are victims of despair, depression and unemployment and need some type of anchor in their lives, Clinton said.

It’s a problem, she noted, that requires communities to work together.

Dean, a medical doctor, said he foresaw the opioid problem coming years ago, when pharmaceutical companies were making painkillers readily available, and some physicians were “making a few bucks on the side” from the drugs.

Clinton said universal health care not only would mean better outcomes for patients but provide cost savings over time.

She noted that the politics surrounding health care have become toxic with the repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act a prime example.

Clinton said her fear is that many people will not receive the care they need.

The former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state championed health care for all Americans in the 1990s when her husband, Bill Clinton, was president.

She said while growing up her family stressed the importance of giving back.

She later became involved in bipartisan efforts to improve adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy and create the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Clinton said it’s frustrating that Congress has failed to reauthorize the insurance program, a 20-year old program providing health care coverage to low- and moderate-income kids.

Dean predicted that some form of universal health care eventually will become a reality in the United States.

“We will have some type of guaranteed insurance for everyone,” he said.

While he was governor of Vermont, the state rolled out a health care plan that insured all children under 18 and allowed those with pre-existing health conditions to receive coverage.

Dean called for giving more health care control to patients and removing fees for service medicine.

It means, he said, totally changing “the equation of how we practice.”

Clinton said the U.S. population needs to do a better job of taking care of its health care needs. Men are especially reluctant to seek medical treatment.

“So many interventions are inexpensive,” she said.

She said her husband is eating much healthier since undergoing bypass surgery after leaving office in 2001.

“He doesn’t eat meat or dairy anymore,” she said. “He’s been very dedicated to this.”

Asked by Geisinger President and CEO Dr. David T. Feinberg what she and her husband do eat, she said, “He eats a plant-based diet, and I don’t.”

Clinton did not talk about the controversy raised by former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile in her just-released book surrounding an alleged secret agreement between the DNC and Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The agreement, according to Brazile, specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Clinton would control the party’s finances, strategy and all money raised.