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Nader Discusses Healthcare At U. Toledo

This story was written by Joe Griffith, The Independent Collegian

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader spoke at University of Toledo's Doermann Theater Thursday about his plan for healthcare reform and other political issues.

"One of the purposes of our campaign is to blast open the closed door by the two party Republican and Democratic [parties] who don't want competition, who don't want to be challenged and who don't want to share the debate stage," Nader said.

Nader ran for president in the 1996 and 2000 elections under the Green Party and again in 2004 as an independent candidate. Now Nader is on his fourth run for the White House. He said the two party system in America makes it impossible for the voice of a third party candidate to be heard.

"They have rigged the system in order to dominate it, and by dominating it, they can never regenerate themselves, because they are not exposed to the competition of displacement," Nader said. "If nature didn't allow seeds to sprout, could nature regenerate itself?"

Although the Republican and Democratic parties may make it increasingly difficult for third party candidates to be successful, UT students from the two major parties understand the importance of presidential candidates like Nader.

"I'm always in favor of having third parties represented," said Jon Sustar, vice president of UT's College Democrats. "In certain cases, the two party system isn't always ideal."

It's important for voters to hear all sides of the political spectrum, said Matt Rubin, chairman of the College Republicans.

"If anybody wants to run for president, they should be allowed to," Rubin said. "[Nader is] pursuing a dream just like my party is, and although he might not have a very good chance of winning at least he's being persistent fighting for what he believes in."

Nader's speech focused on a number of issues, from the war in Iraq to the environment, but he focused mainly on his belief in the necessity for America to adopt a single-payer healthcare system.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, 20,000 Americans who can't afford healthcare die every year, Nader said. That means there are millions more Americans who can't find treatment for their illnesses or injuries, he continued.

Nader further suggested healthcare should be an inherent right for American citizens.

"Every other western country has it, because they think it's a basic social benefit of a civilized society," he said. "We have a pay or die system. The day you're born in Canada, you are insured. You're insured from cradle to nursing home."

As long as insurance companies are involved in the healthcare business, they will continue to deny claims or prohibit referrals because it is financially in their best interest, Nader said.

"Most companies want to sell you more of what they're offering, but insurance companies have it reverse," he said. "They have a perverse incentive that they don't want to satisfy your claims single payer would get rid of that."

In addition to the social benefit, a single payer healthcare system would be more financially efficient, Nader said.

A combination of a low-efficiency expense ratio and the elimination of billing fraud would save Americans half a trillion dollars, which could be used to provide healthcare to people who aren't covered, he said.

The final healthcare argument Nader addressed dealt with the conflicting analysis of data that is used to predict negative outcomes in the healthcare system, he said.

"[There are] 1,500 insurance companies who view their data as proprietary," he said.

By creating data that is more accurat and consistent, the healthcare system can better understand and predict future problems, he said.

"So [single payer healthcare is] much more geared to prevention and correcting bad trends in medical care," Nader said. "That's why, on all indicators, the World Health Organization has us at 39th in the world in our healthcare system."

Nader is both an attorney and an author, but he is perhaps most known for his role as a consumer advocate with experience spanning over four decades.

Nader was involved in the movements that helped create the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nader was also involved in the enactment of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Freedom of Information Act.

"It started when I lost a lot of friends in high school and college in auto accidents," he said.

After looking into the issue, Nader found the concerns of safety engineers were not being considered by auto companies, he said.

"They were building cars that were very vulnerable to occupants in crashes," he said. "That's what led me to write the book and get the two laws passed in 1966."

After taking on the auto companies, Nader has devoted the rest of his life as an advocate for consumer interests.

"[Nader has] been a consumer crusader for decades," said James Price, part time instructor in the department of rehabilitation services at UT. "Your cars are safer, your food is safer, your water is safer because of the activities that Ralph Nader has been involved with for several decades."

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