Vail Daily’s View: Take a deep breath, Congress; do health care reform right |

Vail Daily’s View: Take a deep breath, Congress; do health care reform right

Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO, Colorado

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably seen video from various “town hall” meetings that members of Congress have held during the August recess to “listen.”

Many have been pretty raucous, due mainly to the continuing debate over proposed federal health care legislation. The meeting Friday morning in Edwards with Sen. Michael Bennet that attracted more than 300 people was no exception. Feelings – if not a clear picture of all the facts – are riding high on both sides of the ideological divide.

The health care system we have now needs work, and plenty of it – no rational person would argue otherwise. But there are still a ton of details to be worked out on the plan Congress is considering, which is precisely why it’s a good thing our representatives didn’t pass anything before their summer break.

And consider the fact that a large majority of Americans tell pollsters that while they believe major reforms are needed, they’re somewhere between satisfied and happy with the coverage they have now.

How drastic should an overhaul of the whole system be when most people like what they have now? This is a legitimate question.

The biggest concerns are the swiftly rising costs of our current health care system and how to deal with some 50 million citizens who are left uncovered rather than the quality of coverage most of us have now.

Vail Valley residents will have another chance to talk to our people in D.C. next week. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis will be in town Wednesday at the Singletree Community Center from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. (Unless organizers take a look at the crowd Friday at Berry Creek Middle School and move to a bigger room.)

Based on Friday’s gathering there will be some lively discussion at Polis’ meeting. For our part, we’d like Bennet and Polis to answer the following simple questions:

• Have you read the bill?

• Should Congress be required to participate in the plan?

There’s nothing tricky about any of these questions – just a simple yes or no. But, in our view, we can’t begin to have a reasonable discussion about this legislation unless the answer to both questions is yes.

Congress, of course, is famous for exempting itself from laws and regulations that apply to the rest of us and almost as well-known for passing bills that almost none of them has read. That practice needs to stop.

And when we’re talking about legislation that will affect one-sixth of the nation’s economy, as well as the health and well-being of every American, it’s important we know where our representatives stand on those simple questions. Are they with us or, like royalty, a cut above, too mighty for the care they assign to the masses? It would seem to make a difference how one votes if the system they pass for us also applies to them.

Mostly, though, while they are listening, we’d like them to consider this: With something so big and so complicated as health-care coverage, what makes Washington think that a problem decades in the making is going to be solved with a legislative wave of the wand after a few months of deliberation?

Our advice: Take a deep breath, commit to at least reading the legislation you intend to vote up or down, and, rather than continuing this weird rush to pass a bill, any bill, take the time necessary to get it right.

Our health care system, after all, does have deep flaws. Costs are rising way too fast, and too many people fall out only to re-enter at even greater expense.

That’s serious stuff, and it deserves more serious study.

Vail Daily Editorial Board

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