EDITORIAL: Health care debate needs sanity

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

Whatever your position on the Affordable Care Act, there should be little doubt that the uncertainty now hovering over the nation’s health care system is absolutely unacceptable.

The latest evidence came on July 26, when Indianapolis-based Anthem Inc. announced that it might move even more quickly than expected out of the Obamacare marketplace unless the federal government commits to continue funding the program.

Already, a number of insurers are pulling out of marketplaces in Indiana and across the country, citing losses on individual policies they sell to customers who receive federal subsidies. Anthem had been doing the same, although more cautiously than many of its competitors.

Now, CEO Joseph Swedish says Anthem might get more aggressive in its withdrawal. “Time is of the essence for us to make the right decisions for the markets we serve, the membership we serve, as well as with the company overall,” he said during a conference call.

The moves matter because, without adequate choices, the cost of health insurance could become out of reach for many Americans who are required by law to have coverage or face steep financial penalties.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are playing politics with those people’s lives.

Republicans—because they control the U.S. House and Senate as well as the Oval Office—are particularly to blame for a standoff that has left millions of Americans and the entire health care industry in limbo. GOP leaders are so focused on their overly simplistic campaign promise to “repeal and replace Obamacare” that they’ve completely lost sight of the real issue: how to create a health care marketplace that best serves society.

Doing nothing is not an option. As noted above, insurance companies were already moving out of the individual-coverage marketplaces, even before Donald Trump was elected president and Republicans took control of Congress. There is general agreement even among Democrats that changes in the law are necessary.

What we need is reasoned debate by smart people willing to put politics aside to find answers—probably answers that no one will find wholly satisfying but could become the basis of a health care system that is fair and affordable and can change with technology and innovation that is constantly evolving.

Unfortunately, that seems unlikely.

But with Republicans focused irrationally on campaign promises of repeal, there’s no real debate among leaders—at least not publicly—that could be characterized as reasoned or promising. And Democrats appear all too happy to let Republicans fall flat on their face in the process.

Like most Americans, we’re sick of the rancor. We’re looking for leaders who will look past the next election and focus on creating a health care system that can serve all Americans. Sens. Young and Donnelly and Reps. Brooks, Carson, Hollingsworth, Messer and Rokita, we’re looking at you. Step up.•


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