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Monday, February 22, 2010

Partisan shibboleth thwarts healthcare reform

Steven Pearlstein highlights the real problem when he simultaneously lambastes President Obama for lacking leadership on healthcare reform and the American public, who he says "want everyone to have access to affordable health insurance, but they're wary of expanding the role of government" (see "It's past time for President Obama to show some leadership," Washington Post, Wednesday).
President Obama and his Congress have failed to win a consensus on health care precisely because they adhere to the partisan shibboleth that expanding health coverage requires expanding the federal government.
Only now that voters have handed the pro tempore ruling elite the precursor to a pink slip is the President deigning to listen to alternatives involving less federal intrusion in healthcare decision making.
At his Feb. 25 healthcare summit with minority party leaders, Mr. Obama will hear longstanding alternative ideas to cut costs without expanding government, such as increasing competition by allowing consumers to buy health insurance across state lines. He will hear how to cut the cost of defensive medicine and soaring malpractice premiums, by stemming the tide of runaway malpractice lawsuits that is driving some of our best doctors out of medicine.
Other alternative ideas including incentivizing healthier lifestyles with lower premiums and increasing health insurance access for the uninsured and self-insured with tax-breaks similar to those included with employer-provided insurance.
True political leadership requires working with friend and foe alike to identify common goals, understand and address each other's objections and create win-win solutions. If the President exchanges the radical ideology of the pending healthcare overhaul legislation for more focused, common-sense, patient-centered reforms, everyone wins.

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