Finish work on health-care reform

  
Column by Mary G. Wilsoin
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We have a health-care crisis in America. Too many citizens lack adequate health-insurance coverage and rising costs threaten everyone. The failure of Congress to act on these issues over decades has simply compounded the problems and undermined faith in government.

The League of Women Voters urges our elected members of Congress to finish work on health-care reform and send a bill quickly to the president for his signature. While many of the provisions of the House bill are preferable to those in the Senate version, we believe that the House of Representatives should step forward and pass the Senate bill.

Both the House and Senate have now passed comprehensive health-care legislation, and the bills share many essential elements: They greatly expand health-care coverage to include millions more Americans; they protect the coverage that currently delivers care to most; they contain essential elements to reduce costs over the long term; and they accomplish these goals at a reasonable cost.

Opponents of health-care reform, however, have been irresponsible in adopting a strategy of fear, delay and obfuscation. They have misled and lied about the provisions of the legislation and have relied on the 60-vote rule of the Senate to block progress. These fundamentally anti-democratic tactics cannot be allowed to prevail.

Medicare was enacted over strong opposition from those who opposed “socialized medicine.” Social Security was adopted despite loud and prolonged complaints. Yet, both these systems are now sacrosanct. Many other accomplishments, from civil rights to environmental protection, were controversial when first adopted but have proven to be critical steps forward. Health-care reform is part of that tradition.

We understand that there may be a number of ways for health-care reform to succeed. None of these possibilities will accomplish all that needs to be done, and Congress will need to revisit many issues in coming years. But any of these alternatives moves us toward successful health-care reform and thus is better than the status quo. Congress should not miss this historic opportunity to enact comprehensive health-care reform legislation.

 

Mary G. Wilson is the national president of the League of Women Voters.

  

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