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
  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014

  • Does fracking cause earthquakes? Just in case, get insurance

    There are no professional geologists on the staff of the Tahlequah Daily Press, so we can’t unequivocally say just how much damage fracking is causing to the environment.

    June 27, 2014

  • As chamber scandal expands, plenty of blame to go around

    If the proverbial buck being passed over the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce scandal were a real dollar bill, it would already be worn so thin you could read this newspaper through it.

    June 23, 2014

  • Suicide prevention bill may solve other problems as well

    A bipartisan bill signed into law recently by Gov. Mary Fallin could give schools they leverage and resources they need to help thwart suicide.
    If the initiative works, it could make giant strides in reversing an alarming trend in suicide among teens, and increasingly, among pre-teens. That’s especially important for Oklahoma, where the suicide rate per capita is the 13th highest in the nation.

    June 20, 2014

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