Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

July 9, 2012

Health care reform plan is not all bad

In the wake of last week’s historic Supreme Court ruling on the national health care reform plan known as “Obamacare,” one fact is apparent: Most Americans have no clue what the plan entails, and that lack of information has generated toxic levels of fear.

The court ruled, 5-4, that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can continue unfolding, with its primary goal of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans. Most of the plan won’t come into play until 2014, but one key element already has: Insurers must allow coverage of dependent young people until age 26. And there’s no question this rule has helped many local families, as new college graduates struggle to get on their feet in this shaky economy.

Advocates haven’t done a good job of explaining. An informal poll taken by the Daily Press suggests widespread trepidation, and even anger, over the perceived stifling of personal freedom. But individual comments also indicate there are aspects of the plan even the president’s staunchest detractors might be able to live with.

The day the decision was to be rendered, a note from Bill Ketter, CNHI’s senior vice president for news, mentioned points worth considering when localizing a story on the issue. (CNHI is the parent company of the Daily Press, and most newspapers in our group published such stories – many of them in-depth and illuminating. Our story is at http://tahlequahdailypress.com/local/ x546492737/Locals-divided-on-health-care-ruling; we also recommend perusing pieces done by the Joplin Globe at www.joplinglobe.com).

Among the more positive points:

• Much ado is being made over the penalty – essentially a “tax” – for those who won’t buy health insurance. But this applies only to people who can afford to buy insurance, but refuse to do so. Those who can’t afford it will receive subsidies.

• Insurance companies can’t deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Many people would have bought insurance already had they been allowed; instead, they must use expensive emergency room services, with costs passed onto paying consumers.

• Small businesses with more than 50 full-time workers would have to provide insurance coverage or be fined. Some entrepreneurs have told us they’d provide insurance if it were more affordable, or if they could get subsidies or tax credits.

• Chain restaurants must reveal calorie counts of every item on the menu. This cannot possibly be construed as a negative by any health-conscious consumer. When many people realize just what they’re eating, they may adopt better dietary practices, which should lead to lower health care costs.

Many local residents are justifiably concerned with what they see as an erosion of “freedom of choice.” It’s puzzling why a similar fear wasn’t more widespread in the wake of 9/11 over the privacy-invading tactics instituted by President Bush, and still being employed by Obama, in the “war on terror.” Surely there’s a far better chance the average American will succumb to health problems than a terrorist attack.

Before throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we suggest people educate themselves on what health care reform may mean for their families, rather than accepting partisan rants as gospel truth. Ask yourself:

• If you’ve already been paying for health care insurance, why object to a rule that makes others who can well afford it do the same, knowing that when folks without insurance get sick, you’re paying for their medical care, anyway?

• Doesn’t it stand to reason if everyone is in the insurance pool, competition for new customers – many of whom are in good health – will drive rates down?

• Is there really any reason to believe a doctor or hospital would offer worse service just because they had more customers with insurance to pay them?

With health care costs skyrocketing, few people can rationally argue that some sort of reform isn’t needed. Perhaps Obamacare, in its current form, isn’t the precise plan we need. But now that the highest court has spoken, wouldn’t it make more sense to tweak the plan already in place to make it more palatable to most folks?

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Editorials
  • As education, good jobs falter, violent crime rate will go up

    As April winds down, and with it Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s worth again noting that the rate of violence in Oklahoma has been creeping up in recent years. And it’s time for our state’s top leaders – who wear blinders when it comes to anything negative – to discuss what we’re going to do about it.
    Late last year, the FBI listed Oklahoma as the 10th most dangerous state in the union, based on statistics from 2012. Violent crimes are rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Some Okies might find it a bit disconcerting to learn that our state ranked above California and New York in this data. Topping the list was Tennessee, followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida and Maryland.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

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