California Healthline Rounds Up Editorials on Several Health Issues
Newspapers and columnists nationwide have recently expressed opinions on several current health care issues. The following is a recap of recent editorials and opinion pieces:
- Newsday: With "millions" of people hoping Congress will deliver adequate patients' rights legislation, it is "high time" for legislators to "deliver," the editorial states (Newsday, 8/7). Both the Senate and House passed patients' rights bills last year, but Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has delayed the appointment of conferees to allow the sponsors of the Senate bill -- Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), John Edwards (D-N.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) -- to negotiate an agreement with the White House, which supports the House bill. However, those negotiations broke down earlier this month over disagreement on capping awards patients could seek (California Healthline, 8/2). The editorial recommends that Democrats and Republicans renew their efforts to reach a compromise, by employing the "traditional conference committee." The editorial concludes, "With the war on terrorism, a swooning economy and a budget to pass, Washington has plenty to do. But patients' rights ... are too important to be lost in the crush of other business" (Newsday, 8/7).
Children's Health Insurance
Philadelphia Inquirer: To maintain the success the CHIP program has had in covering children over the last five years, Congress needs to reverse a $3 billion reduction in the program's federal funding set to take place over the next three years, and parents need to determine if their uninsured children are eligible for coverage, the editorial states. Although the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation "Covering Kids" initiative, an outreach project intended to make parents of uninsured children aware of public health insurance, is a "great effort," it is "one that eventually will end." At that point, states will be left to determine the best way to make parents aware of available public health coverage for their children, the editorial concludes (Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/7).
- Portland Press Herald: Although Maine has done a "great job" providing health insurance to the state's children, about 10% of children still are eligible but not enrolled in the state's CHIP program, MaineCare, the editorial notes. According to the editorial, the "major reason" eligible children continue to be uninsured is that their parents do not know they are eligible. However, the editorial notes that with just a "short application" to fill out, it is "painless to find out if your family meets the guidelines" (Portland Press Herald, 8/5).
Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
Philadelphia Inquirer: The failure of Congress to agree on a Medicare prescription drug benefit before its August recess can be attributed to limited federal funds and a "clash of ideologies" -- Democrats' insistence on a government-run program versus Republicans' desire for a privately run program, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial. As a result, the "only assured outcome" is that the debate will be "fodder" for political campaigns. The editorial concludes, "Seniors ... ought to tell Congress they're sick of such tactics" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/6).
- Hartford Courant: The Medicare prescription drug benefit bill proposed by Sens. Robert Graham (D-Fla.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) was "not perfect," but could have "provided a framework that could have been adjusted" in the future, according to a Hartford Courant editorial. Even though Senate Republicans opposed the bill because it required the federal government to administer the benefit, they "could have found a compromise without killing the plan." The editorial concludes, "[T]he [prescription drug benefit] issue will not die. Americans will continue to demand that lawmakers provide relief for elderly people who find prescription drugs unaffordable. Lawmakers who fail to respond risk being retired by voters" (Hartford Courant, 8/8).
- John Stone, Washington Times: It is "time to pass" HR 1331, a bill proposed by House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and Rep. William Lipinski (D-Ill.) that would provide a tax credit of up to $3,000 each year for families to purchase private health plans, John Stone, director of the U.S. Freedom Foundation, writes in a Washington Times opinion piece. He says the Armey/Lipinski plan "keep[s] it simple" because it will provide coverage for "millions" of Americans, it "helps now" and there are no other plans that would cover more people without "dramatically revamping" the entire health care system. Stone concludes, "Armey and Lipinski are listening [to the people]. Let's hope the rest of the House and Senate is, too" (Stone, Washington Times, 8/8).