Thursday, May 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: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18