Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Health reforms under repair

The Obama administration is smart to move toward enabling consumers to buy subsidized health insurance directly from insurers rather than only through the balky federal website. It's not a perfect solution, but it will help families get coverage and buy time to get the malfunctioning healthcare.gov website working correctly. It is critical to take every step possible toward providing affordable health coverage for millions before the political assault on the administration's failures further erodes public confidence and kills the entire reform effort.

Besides fixing the website's flaws, President Barack Obama and his allies have to better explain consumers' options. For example, families already can buy directly from insurers the same plans that are available on the federal exchange. The problem is that families who want to become eligible for federal subsidies to help pay for the cost of coverage can only go through the exchange, and insurers can't connect with the federal data hub to determine eligibility.

Within days, consumers who want to learn if they are eligible for federal subsidies should be able to go directly to an individual insurer rather than through the federal exchange. It will be harder for them to compare coverage from different insurers than at the one-stop shopping promised by the federal marketplace. But it should take some pressure off the federal website, which officials have promised should be working as expected by the end of this month. The website performs better now than when it debuted. But there are still significant flaws and widespread reports of consumers losing their connection before they complete shopping for coverage.

Obama and his administration should be held accountable for the disastrous rollout of the federal marketplace. The president also has apologized for overpromising that anyone who wanted to keep his or her current plan — no matter the plan's shortcomings — would be able to keep it. It was a failure of leadership and a lack of focus for the president to allow his signature legislation to go so far off track, and his sliding poll numbers reflect the dissatisfaction of many Americans. But the effort by millions to use the federal marketplace underscores the demand for affordable health care coverage, and it is imperative that the administration makes the necessary adjustments to meet the need.

The Republican criticisms of the administration's shortcomings are understandable, but they should be put into perspective. Their goal is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, not improve it. Their aim is to damage the president's credibility, not help him achieve other goals. And the hypocrisy of their efforts to undermine health care reform by making it harder to sign up for coverage while they get special treatment is clear.

As consumers struggle to use the federal website, the New York Times reports that members of Congress can log on to a Blue Cross and Blue Shield website only for their use. As Republicans make it difficult for navigators to help families sign up for plans, members of Congress have "in-person support sessions'' at the Capitol. And as they demanded that consumers be allowed to keep low-cost plans that provide little coverage, they were able to choose from more comprehensive plans than are often offered elsewhere.

The Obama administration should be held responsible for its mistakes. The president has to make good on his promises to make the federal marketplace work and make it easier for Americans to sign up for coverage. But the outrage coming from many members of Congress should be taken with large grains of salt.

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Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17