Opinion Pieces Discuss Congressional Inaction on the Uninsured
A New York Times editorial and an opinion piece by syndicated columnist Helen Thomas each examine the issue of the uninsured and congressional action on the topic.
New York Times: Health care costs have increased at "double-digit rates" in the past few years, which could lead to an increase in the number of uninsured Americans -- but "Democrats and Republicans are caught in the same ideological divide that has prevented action" on the problem for years. The Times points out that Republicans have proposed tax credits to help individuals purchase health insurance, but Democrats "argue that such a system favors young and the healthy because older and sicker patients will have a tough time finding affordable insurance." Democrats favor a proposal that would allow individuals to purchase health insurance through employer-sponsored plans or through group health insurance pools established by states, a plan that the Times says "makes the most sense because it preserves the idea of a common insurance pool in which risks are shared and costs are kept down" for participants. The editorial predicts that the "demand for health care is going to be high on the agenda" for voters in November, adding that their "patience is diminishing" for lawmakers to address the issue. The editorial concludes that "a sober recognition has settled in Washington that little can be done to expand or improve health coverage while health care costs spiral out of control and the federal budget sinks deeper into deficit. Lawmakers seem to be betting that voters will not punish them for inaction. But they cannot put off the issue forever" (New York Times, 5/28).
- Helen Thomas: Despite the "shameful fact" that about 39 million Americans are uninsured, "there is no chance" Congress will "move on the subject" this year, Thomas says. Congress' failure to make the uninsured and the high cost of health insurance "top issues" has prompted a coalition of 13 "diverse" organizations to start an advertising campaign that highlights the "problems of the uninsured," she writes. While the organizations involved have different approaches to providing health coverage to the uninsured, Thomas notes that the campaign could "make people more aware" of the problem. Thomas concludes, "We must find a solution so that no one in this country lacks access to health care. That means we should accept the reality that if we are to have universal coverage, the government will have to help finance the system" (Thomas, Houston Chronicle, 5/27).
This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.