I am writing to register my deep concern about the ongoing budget crisis engulfing our nation. We must remember how the current stalemate began in order to transcend it.
A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives refused to pass a budget approved by the Senate. Their objections to this budget centered on funding for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Funding health care for millions of Americans is not only the ethical and humane thing to do; it is also financially prudent. Individuals who lack health insurance also lack access to primary and preventive medical care. Consequently, they use more expensive walk-in clinics and emergency rooms, driving up medical costs for individuals, states and the federal government.
These uninsured individuals are not “slackers” who deserve the disrespect of Congress; the majority work full-time and contribute vitally to our nation’s economy.
Americans affected by the health-insurance crisis are not “elsewhere.” This issue affects every one of us, directly or indirectly.
Two of my adult children, despite working and (mostly) supporting themselves since aging out of my health plan, have gone without health insurance for extended periods of time. My oldest daughter finally got health benefits last August, after nearly six years working as a day-care provider and child-care director in Seattle.
Her partner works 40-50 hours weekly as an assistant chef and has no health insurance. My sister-in-law (who is self-employed) simply cannot afford the high price of an individual health plan. Such stories are far from unique.
The current approach — risking irreversible damage to our nation’s economy to avoid funding health insurance for all Americans — makes no sense, fiscally or morally.
I hope members of the Walla Walla Valley community will join me in urging our congressional leaders to move beyond this stalemate now.
George S. Bridges
Whitman College president