Saturday, August 15, 2009

GOP Weekly Address

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) gives the Republican weekly address. Unfortunately, the link won't paste so let me quote the portion that struck me as most insightful. Hatch focuses on those areas of agreement for which there is bipartisan support to reform health care now, rather than jettisoning the whole system:

1. Reforming the health insurance market for every American by making sure that no American is denied coverage simply based on a pre-existing condition

2. Protecting the coverage for almost 85 percent of Americans who already have coverage – coverage they like – by making it more affordable. This means reducing costs by rewarding quality and coordinated care, giving families more information on the cost and choices of their coverage and treatment options, discouraging junk lawsuits against doctors and hospitals and promoting prevention and wellness measures like quitting smoking and living a healthier lifestyle

3. Giving states flexibility to design their own unique approaches to reduce uninsured

4. Empowering small businesses and self-employed entrepreneurs – the job-creating engines and lifeblood of our economy – to buy affordable coverage for their employees.

Take point number one. Everyone agrees that excluding people for preexisting conditiion is a bad idea. Some view it as simply immoral. Others see it as a handcuff that keeps people from switching to jobs that might improve their standard of living and our economy's growth. All of us, if we're honest, worry that someday we or one of our one of our loved ones could fall into that "preexisting condition" category.

Given the widespread support for outlawing the practice, Congress should pass a one page bill that prohibits denial of coverage for preexisting conditions. The beauty of that simplicity is that (1) our elected officials -- and citizens -- could actually read the bill and (2) if it is not tarted up with controversial (and extraneous) measures, it can pass quickly.

Some would say that we should not reform health care on an incremental basis. But given the passionate disagreement on so many provisions now floating around the Hill, why hold up improving the one item upon which we all agree?

If one member of Congress can introduce a bill that makes this one discrete change, that member can change the lives of many Americans, reduce anxiety for all of us, and transform the tenor of the health care debate in Washington.

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