Many Republicans and Democrats, both in the Mississippi congressional delegation and in the towns and communities across our Northeast Mississippi region and state, express essentially the same concerns and ask the same questions:
- How would it drive down the costs of health care?
- How could the whole system be better if existing systems like Medicare are diminished?
- When will the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office be able to crunch the numbers and make an independent determination of costs?
- How could a program that some say would increase the national debt by $1.8 trillion over 10 years be affordable, especially in light of long-term financial issues with Medicare and Social Security?
Those who will vote should consider uncompensated health care, actually a "hidden health tax" for family and individual coverage of $1,017 and $368 respectively last year, the Families USA advocacy group reports.
In 2008, uncompensated (uninsured) care cost $116 billion from doctors, hospitals and other providers, $42.7 billion of which was never paid from any source - public, private or charitable.
We have long favored health insurance reforms that would dramatically increase health insurance availability for the nearly 50 million Americans without coverage, but it may not be possible to resolve that and other issues in a single, comprehensive piece of legislation.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Tupelo, and 1st District Rep. Travis Childers, a Democrat from Booneville, both dealt with the broader issues in August editorial board meetings with the Daily Journal.
Even with differing long-term considerations and views of the overall situation, Wicker and Childers share similar bipartisan concerns.
Sen. Thad Cochran, also a Republican, was not available for an editorial board, but he said in a Columbus speech last week, "We need to take a common sense approach that will fit the country's economic hardships. People are worried about the ever-increasing costs of health care, and they are worried they won't have the benefit of insurance protection with a new system."
Cochran cited specific reservations with a public plan option as too much government that would stifle competition.
President Obama must provide stronger and more specific guidance for formulation of final proposals.
Without fully developed plans there can be no reasonable and responsible resolution.