Health-care plan built on politics, not sound policy

Congress should chuck this flawed proposal and start over.

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The health-care reform debate in Congress has more to do with politics than crafting good pubic policy.

And that's a huge concern. If Congress approves health-care reform in this next few days the nation will have to live with the consequences for decades.

Lawmakers and President Obama better be certain this plan is the correct plan.

Yet, most really don't believe this is the best approach. At this point, some Democrats in the House are not ready to back the plan on the table because they either have philosophical objections or are afraid of getting pummeled in the November election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has considered an approach that would give them some political cover. The House could "deem" the Senate version of the bill passed without actually going on record voting for it. This procedure is nothing new, but rarely used.

Republicans are, of course, claiming outrage. The goal here is to shame Democrats into taking a more traditional on-the-record vote so the GOP could use the record to whack incumbent Democrats over the head.

Meanwhile, Obama and Democrats from liberal-leaning congressional districts see political peril in not passing some sort of health-care reform. Anything will do.

They figure they won't get support from Republicans and moderates anyway and if they lose those liberals who are demanding health-care reform, these Democrats are certain to be ousted in November.

So, politics -- staying in power -- is the motivation to get a health-care plan approved.

Unfortunately, the health-care plan (a 2,700-plus-page bill) being considered for final approval will have many unintended consequences. Much of what is to be put in place should be based on more than hope it will work.

In addition, the price tag will ultimately be too high. The claims reform will somehow save taxpayers money are ridiculous.

Associated Press reporter Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar this week took a look at the long-term impact of the proposed legislation. He wrote: "Some health insurance consumer protections would go into place immediately, significant but limited in scope. The big expansion in coverage comes in four years. About 25 million people would sign up, with most getting tax credits to help pay premiums. Ripple effects continue well after Obama has to leave office in 2017, if he's re-elected.

"... The Obama blueprint will be carried out under less-than-ideal circumstances. Rising medical costs and an aging population will keep squeezing the federal budget. Lawmakers will have to revisit hard choices they sidestepped."

Legislators, Republicans as well as Democrats, have a history of putting off the hard choices until another day -- when someone else is in office.

Legislation that puts off the hard choices isn't a solution, it's going to be a problem. Actually, a lot of problems.

And now is not the time to dig this nation deeper in debt or to impose higher taxes.

Toss this giant ball of yarn called health-care reform in the trash and start fresh.

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