Monday, September 24, 2018
Editorials

Another voice: Time for repair, not repeal

'Let Obamacare fail," President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. Has there ever been a more cynical abdication of presidential responsibility? Trump is apparently indifferent to the pain that sabotaging the individual health insurance market would cause millions of Americans. Congress must therefore act responsibly.

Barring some totally unforeseen developments in Congress, Trump's breezy promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has evaporated — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell previously acknowledged the GOP's responsibility if such a circumstance came to pass: "If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur," he said earlier this month.

Several moderate Democrats have recently expressed openness to reforming Obamacare in concert with Republicans, and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Tuesday endorsed bipartisan cooperation to stabilize insurance markets. If Schumer is serious, he should appoint a panel of Democrats who are willing to cooperate to serve as his side's negotiators. Those on the more reasonable end of the Senate GOP caucus have begun sounding the right notes, too.

If enough people in each of the two parties accept that Obamacare is here to stay and that it requires fixes, the next agreements would come fairly easily. The House and Senate Republican health care bills contained a variety of provisions that would have shored up existing individual health insurance markets. Those can be copied and pasted into a new, bipartisan bill.

Democrats and Republicans should be able to support reinsurance programs, which provide a financial backstop to insurers against customers with very high medical costs, thereby lowering premiums. They should fully fund a program that helps low-income people pay out-of-pocket health-care costs, as Trump-administration-induced uncertainty around this program has roiled insurance markets. In return, Democrats would have to give Republicans something, such as expanding state options to experiment with health care policy and possibly some loosening of Obamacare regulations.

Both sides might unite around a plan that automatically enrolled everyone into at least a basic health care policy, with a provision allowing people to opt out. The individual mandate that all Americans carry health coverage also needs to be strengthened to draw more people into the insurance system. Those concerned about the mandate's infringement on individual liberty might be more comfortable if government tax benefits were withheld from, rather than fines applied to, people who declined to maintain coverage.

Moving beyond the partisan goal of replacing Obamacare in fact would unlock a much wider range of options, because lawmakers would no longer be bound by strict parliamentary "reconciliation" rules. Only one option should be taken off the table: the president's irresponsible call to wreck the system.

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Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Editorial: Florida needs uniform standards for voting by mail

Vote by mail has been a stunning success in Florida, increasing turnout and making it easy and convenient to cast a ballot with time to research and reflect. But a new study shows that mail ballots cast by African-American, Hispanic or younger voters...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

Editorial: Borrowers need protection from Marlin Financial

State and federal lending regulations exist to protect consumers from being surprised — and overwhelmed — by ballooning debt. Marlin Financial, a shadowy auto lender doing business around Florida, seems to be skirting those protections ...
Published: 09/21/18
Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/19/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18