Health-care reform: Friend or foe? Area politicians split along party lines
I’m a little bit ashamed to admit that I haven’t exactly been following all the hubbub about health-care reform. I’m one of the lucky people that has pretty good medical insurance through my employer. But I also know there are a lot of people who aren’t so lucky.
On the surface, it sounds like a great idea: quality health care for everyone. However, not surprisingly, things have gotten very messy as the worlds of big business, medicine and politics collide.
Public opinion has shifted dramatically since President Obama took office one year ago, and, with a Republican taking Edward Kennedy’s open U.S. Senate seat, the Democrats no longer have the critical 60th seat needed to carry the vote.
Health-care reform seems to be headed to the dustbin, an odd piece of U.S. history trivia, like the Equal Rights Amendment of the 1970s or the solar panels Jimmy Carter installed on the White House, or then-First Lady Hillary's health-care efforts in 1993.
For many voters, the biggest problem with the current bill is the so-called "Cadillac tax."
In cobbling together a plan they hoped would please all parties – including big insurance companies – while also paying for all the changes, the Democrats added a tax on employer-based insurance plans.
That means people with insurance through their job would pay taxes on that insurance, meaning a much higher out-of-pocket expense than they currently have.
There are also serious concerns that Medicare — and thus senior citizens — would also bear much of the brunt of reform. With a sputtering economy and wallets already stretched, this tax has left many skittish about any kind of health-care reform.
The issue is far from dead, however, and we can expect some new twists and turns to come our way.
Several web sites have great coverage of the issue and break it down in real terms. Two such sites, Kaiserhealthnews.org - one of TucsonSentinel.com's media partners - and thehill.com, offer different perspectives on the issue.
If you’re in the mood for party rhetoric, check out the web sites of Arizona's elected officials, who are not surprisingly divided along party lines.
Republican Senators John McCain and John Kyl are adamantly opposed to reform.
Kyl offers an indictment of the Democrats and what he calls "cash for cloture" on his Senate website.
Meanwhile McCain has decried the Democrats, asking them to “stop this unsavory sausage-making process called health-care reform.”
Representatives Gabrielle Giffords, and Raul Grijalva, both Democrats, are strong supporters of reform.
While the prognosis for healthcare reform is not good, it’s not dead yet.