Former President Clinton Faults U.S. Health Care System
Health care is one of the top problems facing the U.S. and is threatening the country's well-being, former President Bill Clinton said Saturday, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Speaking at a daylong symposium for KCBS Health Etc. in San Francisco, Clinton called the U.S. health care system "immoral because it doesn't provide health care to everybody" and "uneconomical" because "[w]e pay more than everybody else in the world for less."
While the U.S. spends 16% of its national income on health care -- compared with 11% in Canada and Switzerland, the nations with the next-highest spending -- the U.S. ranks 37th in health care quality, insures fewer residents and pays more for prescription drugs, Clinton said. He added that one-third of health care spending goes toward administrative costs, a higher rate than any other country.
"We're letting the health insurance financing tail wag the health care dog," he said.
Clinton also criticized the pharmaceutical industry's opposition to drug importation from Canada. He said drug makers want people to believe that "if you take it when it crosses the border, you will immediately drop dead. It's the same medicine. (Canadians) don't drop dead."
Clinton did not offer specific solutions to fix the health care system but said there are several options. Clinton cited the need to bolster preventive care, saying, "We are great about treating sickness, but we are lousy at keeping people well." He also said that the U.S. health care system "is sowing the seeds of its own destruction" (DeFao, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/15).
On Sunday, Clinton told school board members they could help combat the childhood obesity epidemic by placing more emphasis on nutrition and exercise in school curricula, MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News reports.
In a speech to the National School Boards Association in San Francisco, Clinton said that the problem stems in part from financially strapped school districts contracting with cafeteria service companies that do not focus on nutrition. Clinton also blamed trans fats, sugar and serving sizes, as well as economic pressures that compel some families to spend less on food.
"People with limited incomes are looking at volume purchases," he said, adding, "Family budgets for food have not gone up with the rate of inflation." Clinton said, "We are playing Russian roulette with our kids' future," noting that children today might comprise "the first generation of children (who will) live shorter lives than their parents" (Peele, MediaNews/San Jose Mercury News, 4/16).