The death earlier this week of Senator Edward M. Kennedy seems to have changed the terms of the debate over healthcare and health insurance reform, although not in the sense of changing the respective pros and cons of the current proposals, or in the cost analysis.If possible, however, the discussion will now become even more emotionally charged, as Kennedy in death is possibly even more closely identified with healthcare policy than he was in life.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with his positions on healthcare reform, there's no question that Kennedy's focus on this issue was passionate and long-standing. Considering how long he had been pushing for change, what's surprising is that he didn't seem to get discouraged or burned out on this issue -- he never gave up. To get a sense of just how long-standing Kennedy's focus on healthcare was, watch this fascinating video -- a combination of two news reports from 1971, when Kennedy challenged then-President Richard Nixon's own proposals for health insurance reform. For better or for worse, it's clear that in many ways very little has changed on this front, in terms of the challenges, the politics and the consequences.