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4/5/2017 8:39:00 AM
EDITORIAL: Wanted - Hoosier leaders for health-care reform

Herald Bulletin

It's a crime that health care in the United States has become a political football. Government officials from Indiana should do something about it.

Some celebrated and others mourned the demise of the American Health Care Act this month when Speaker of the House Paul Ryan failed to secure enough support to bring it to a vote. Both the flowing champagne and the gnashing of teeth had to do more with politics than with finding the best solution for America's health-care quandary.

Republicans, including President Donald Trump, had promised repeatedly to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, which has become known as Obamacare in reference to the act's principal author, former President Barack Obama.

But when it came right down to it, Obamacare has too many features that help too many people for it to be easily repealed or replaced.

Lawmakers on the left and the right and pretty much in the middle — everyone but Ryan and other relatively moderate conservatives — found flaws in the Trump-Ryan plan.

Some thought it didn't go far enough in dismantling Obamacare.

Others saw the Congressional Budget Office's projection that the AHCA plan would lead to 14 million additional Americans going without health insurance in 2018. And they saw estimates the AHCA would send the health insurance costs for many poorer Americans skyrocketing by as much as 700 percent.

The path forward now is unclear, and it could easily veer off toward disaster if Republicans try to choke off Obamacare from the inside through paralyzing administrative measures.

A much better practical (and perhaps political) solution would be to forget about "repealing" and "replacing" and to instead modify and rename Obamacare to diminish political bias against it and address its many flaws.

For example, why not allow health insurance sales across state lines, which has been touted by Republicans as a way to increase competition and drive down costs?

Indiana leaders in the federal government are uniquely positioned to lead the way toward a health-care compromise that would truly work for Americans by improving access to care while taming insurance premiums and medical costs.

Vice President Mike Pence was governor of Indiana when the highly successful Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 was introduced, and the architect of HIP 2.0, Seema Verma, was appointed by President Trump to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Both are positioned to bend the president's ear and prevail on him and others to seek practical modifications in the current health-care law. President Trump, House Speaker Ryan and others could even claim such modifications as evidence of their leadership in breaking through a partisan impasse.

Sen. Joe Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, both representing Indiana, could also play important roles in modifying the health-care law. When they aren't toeing the party line, Donnelly and Brooks are widely respected by their peers in Congress.

Someone has to step forward to halt this ludicrous game of political football with American health care. Who better than common-sense Hoosiers?

2017 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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