Although health-care reform was approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama Tuesday, it remains a work in progress.
Much of what the law will do kicks in over the next few years. Major coverage expansion begins in 2014 and phases in over time to provide insurance coverage for 32 million more people, according to congressional estimates.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of the coverage expansion the next 10 years at $938 billion. But this measure is estimated by the CBO to reduce annual deficits by $143 billion over a decade.
These estimates are contingent on everything going exactly as planned and Congress not tinkering with this legislation. That's not likely. Nobody can accurately predict what will happen over the next fours years -- and that includes who will be serving in Congress or occupying the White House.
Given that, it is important for those in power -- whether Democrats or Republicans -- to move forward focused on the best interests of the nation. And the key is to fulfill the promise of providing access to health care for more people and doing so in a way that reduces the deficit.
Now, we aren't totally sold on this plan. We are skeptical that expanding health-care coverage is a budget bonus. Still, we hope it works. The current health-care system is a mess and the federal budget is in even worse shape.
But we don't think it's productive to try to undercut the approved legislation simply to cause problems for the opposition party. In many cases these fixes are simply procedural actions.
Yet, if Republican senators have sincere concerns and their proposals are not simply partisan roadblocks, they should be considered.
Like it or not, and Republicans don't like it one bit, the health-care reform ship has sailed. The framework for health-care reform is now law. We all need to look forward and not back.
GOP members, as the current minority, must hold Democrats accountable for their promises. So should taxpayers.
And if Republicans take power in either or both houses of Congress over the next decade, they need to improve on what's in place not simply gut it and start over.
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