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VOL. 127 | NO. 64 | Monday, April 2, 2012

Much at Stake With Health Care Debate

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As we wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that will determine the future of national health care reform, it is important to keep a broader perspective on the issue.

With all of the issues that rightfully belong before the highest court in the country, let’s remember that there is still a health care system that many Americans cannot afford to use.

And the system is increasingly too difficult for most of us – no matter what our income or social status may be – to navigate alone.

If you find yourself seriously ill or injured, your first thought after you come to terms with what has happened will be whether you can afford the medical care necessary to fully recover.

And if you are able to fully recover, how deep in debt could you be as a result?

That is a fact that no court ruling, debate on the floor of Congress or press conference with a slogan printed over and over on a backdrop can change.

A Supreme Court ruling will not settle that and allow us to walk into a carefree future.

The quality of our health care and working for an employer that provides health care coverage are issues that promise to remain linked for some time to come.

That means the concerns employees have about health care and its cost are shared by employers.

Neither enjoys what is at some companies an annual ritual of rolling out different health care insurance plans for employees to choose from because the existing plan has come to cost too much.

The Affordable Care Act is a foothold on a climb with an ascent that is still being debated. At times even the destination has been in question.

The stakes are too high to draw the normal partisan line somewhere in the discussion and then conduct the normal game of tug of war with the normal combatants.

When the U.S. Supreme Court rules, it is essential that the pursuit of affordable health care continue with the lessons learned from the legal fight as well as what has happened to date as the Affordable Care Act has unfolded.

What we have in the way of a specific goal is not that unique in political thought – it is a moving target. Health care reform can’t happen all at once.

So it has begun with a phased-in approach that has brought to the surface unintended consequences as well as deliberate reactions.

There are unwilling partners, uneasy alliances and legitimate concerns about the impact these changes will have on the economy – job creation in particular – and continuing medical innovation.

Our task going forward is to learn from the consequences and reactions and let that along with the court ruling to come guide the next steps to a better and fairer health care policy that gets us closer to a goal that remains in search of a better path.

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