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Local Papers Across the Country Weigh in for Reform
March 19, 2010
06:35 PM EDT
As the fight to put American families and small businesses in control of their health care hits the home stretch, local papers across the country are speaking out for the communities they serve and urging Congress to get health reform done. Here's just a sample of what editorials are saying in advance of the vote:
There's no denying the health-care reform bill to be considered by Congress in coming days is far from perfect and has been crafted in a flawed process. However, continuing with the current health-care system marred by uncontrolled costs and countless uninsured Americans is not an option. That's why we believe Rep. Betsy Markey is making the right decision to support the reform package.
History books recognize specific dates when a president took action that changed the course of the country's future. One of those days was Aug. 14, 1935, when Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Another was July 30, 1965, when Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law. Both programs improved the lives of Americans. The country is on the cusp of another such remarkable day. That's right. The U.S. House is expected to vote on health reform legislation Sunday. If it passes and President Barack Obama signs it into law, the country will be witnessing historic change.
As Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives push for a final vote on health care reform by this weekend, we examine four big lies that reform opponents are spreading. “The current system works just fine.” … “This bill is a government takeover of health care.” … “We can’t afford health care reform. We have to cut the deficit.” … “Health care reform means federal funding for abortion.”
Congressional leaders unveiled the latest version of the health care bill Thursday, and the House Democratic leadership was ecstatic. After months of being hammered by Republicans with lies about the reform plans, Democrats cheered the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s initial analysis of the bill, which undercut the GOP’s complaints. The analysis found the bill would give access to health insurance to 95 percent of nonelderly Americans while cutting the federal deficit by $138 billion over 10 years. The bill could cut as much as $1.2 trillion from the deficit in the following decade.
… Our larger point is that, when it comes to fixing what's broken in U.S. health care, it is time to put aside rigid ideologies and embrace experimentation and hybrid solutions. Whatever plan comes out of Congress this week -- if any -- won't be perfect. But it will be a start at a process of change that, in an era of globalization and mobility, is long overdue.
As the "yes" votes for health care reform trickle in, building toward the House majority needed to approve work done in the Senate, Americans must keep in mind what will be forefeit if that effort falters. Medical costs continue to skyrocket even as fiscally challenged states like Michigan slash Medicaid payments. Most of the healthy uninsured cannot afford to buy policies, leaving the individual market mostly to chronically ill, for whom health insurance is more like a discount card than a safety net.
The latest health care scenarios just released by researchers from a respected think tank offer grim food for thought as health reform moves toward final passage in Congress. If the legislation doesn't pass, the worst-case projection is that the number of Americans without coverage will climb from 49.4 million to 67.6 million in 2020, meaning that nearly one in four Americans too young for Medicare will be uninsured.
By now, every voice in the debate over healthcare reform has been heard from. The only thing left to do is pass the reform bill. Admittedly, the bill under consideration is far from perfect. President Obama made a last-minute change that delays a tax on high-cost insurance policies until 2018, which adds to the immediate costs. Nor were Democrats willing to reduce or kill the tax break for employee health benefits, which would also reduce costs and produce more cost-conscious healthcare consumers.
EVERY piece of legislation is in some sense a wager: that it will accomplish what is intended; that its costs will be as anticipated; that the promised funding will materialize; that, however imperfect, it represents an improvement on the status quo. Voting for the health reform package now before the House of Representatives represents, in those terms, a huge gamble.
As the House heads toward a historic vote on health care reform as early as Sunday, all Florida Republicans remain opposed and all but two Democrats are firmly in support. But a new analysis released Thursday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee suggests Florida lawmakers who vote against the reforms are acting against the best interests of their constituents.