Saturday, November 7, 2009

Editorial: Will health bill really help folks?

On behalf of the entire community, I want to thank the unnamed Courier editor for this ringing endorsement of HR3200 and health-care reform.

Oh, I can see that he tried to cover up his enthusiasm with some token objections. But they're so weak that one can only conclude that he's not serious about them.

For example, he says he doesn't "like" the bill because "Members of Congress continue to receive taxpayer-subsidized, gold-plated benefits packages." If the reform passes, most Americans will maintain the same health plans they're on now, although with more security about their coverage, and most corporations will continue to offer the same plans, so Congress isn't special in that regard. It's completely beside the point.

He goes on to warn that "A strong public option would let the hand of government reach too far into yet another industry." Leaving aside that this is nothing more than a vague ideological point, the bill does not include a strong public option. It's really pretty weak. But we can make it stronger later, as it becomes clearer to more voters that we really need it.

His third and strongest point in opposition to the bill is that "it requires individuals 'who can afford it' to buy insurance in the interests of distributing costs. No specifics exist on what parameters define 'who can afford it.'" That would be a tough nut if it were true. Of course, it isn't. "Affordability credits are provided under the House health care reform bill for families with income below 400 percent of the Federal poverty level," says the FAQ from the House Ways and Means Committee. That's a clear means test defining exactly "who can afford it."

Always standing up for individual rights, the editor adds that "it's still an American's right to remain uninsured," apparently quoting fine print in the Constitution that only he has seen. But even this is provided in the bill -- if you really don't want to buy coverage, you don't have to. You'll still have to pay a little bit to help support the system that will be your safety net when you get sick anyway, of course. But that's only fair.

So most readers will see that these quibbles are just a paper-thin attempt at balance, covering the editor's clearly unmitigated enthusiasm. We should all thank him. And give him a cookie.