The Obama administration released their plan for health care reform this morning. It is great that the president has finally done this but the White House waited too long. It is understandable that they did not want to repeat the HillaryCare disaster of the Bill Clinton years by writing a plan that was mocked by everyone from members of Congress to “Harry and Louise.” However, given the dysfunction that we now know is rampant in Congress the president needed to be a leader in this process. Now he has finally done it. Releasing his own plan will insure that the discussion on Thursday at the health care summit has some real meat to it and is not just a rallying point for either Democrats or Republicans to keep hammering away at their well-defined positions.
Many of the president’s critics are saying that jobs should be his main focus right now and that Democrats should simple table health care reform. While that argument might make sense on the face of it, but if we do not make some changes to an area that now comprises one sixth of our economy it ruin all of us. The president has not choice but to continue his quest to solve some of the more glaring problems in our health care system. With a nationwide unemployment rate of almost 10 percent and our country’s real unemployment hovering near seventeen percent, not fixing health care will cost states more in Medicaid and also ramp up the cost to the federal government in Medicare disability. Like the old television comedy routine, when you close one drawer the other one will open unless you fix the entire cabinet. -- It can't be just jobs or health care, it has to be both.
The president's plan incorporates some of the Republican’s suggestions for reform and sets up a system to reduce premiums so that people can afford to purchase insurance. It allows a competitive health market so that people can get the same plan that Congress has and it will end the problem of pre-existing conditions as a barrier for people who can't purchase policies. The president's plan for health care reform claims that it will reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years. Assuming the Obama administration’s numbers are accurate, how could the president not continue to press for health care reform? It makes all the sense in the world. Jobs and health care are not mutually exclusive.
Ellen Ratner is Washington bureau chief of Talk Radio News Service and a Fox News contributor.
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