Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Obama's self-inflicted health care wounds

President Barack Obama's announcement Thursday that he would allow health insurers to delay cancellations of substandard plans for a year may have been politically necessary, but it is more than disappointing. It delays realization of the Affordable Care Act's goal to put nearly all Americans into affordable, comprehensive health coverage instead of Swiss-cheese-style health insurance products that often leave people underinsured. But it is better than a plan the House will consider today, and it could give the administration some breathing room to fix an appallingly rocky rollout of the online federal health insurance marketplace.

The president brought Thursday's events on himself when he repeatedly overpromised that his signature domestic achievement would not stop Americans who wanted to keep the health insurance they had. That might be true for about 95 percent of Americans with insurance who are covered by employer-sponsored policies, or who are in government-sponsored health insurance such as Medicare and Medicaid. But Obama's statement didn't allow for insurers' discretion to stop offering products that were grandfathered in under the 2010 ACA law, nor did it acknowledge that insurers would abandon products offered since then that clearly would run afoul of the standards taking effect in January. And now it's not even clear if the private market will actually take advantage of what Obama has proposed.

The uproar has given Republicans in Congress another excuse to call for the law's repeal, as House Speaker John Boehner did again on Thursday. The House will vote today on a measure to gut the ACA by allowing insurers to offer substandard policies to new customers, not just existing ones. That would divert younger, healthy people from the online marketplaces, one way to ensure a "death spiral" and the marketplaces' demise.

For healthy people, inexpensive bare-bones insurance may seem like a good deal — until they have an accident or get sick. Then they often find their policy covers relatively little and excludes past medical conditions. The ACA requires health insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions without charging more and to provide comprehensive coverage.

Thursday's conversation might also have been different had the federal online health insurance marketplaces worked as advertised. But the website healthcare.gov has brought mind-numbing frustration to those who attempt to use it. Only 106,000 people had succeeded in signing up for a private health plan as of Wednesday, and of those only 26,794 people did so through the federally run site. The outcry from those receiving private insurance cancellations might have been different had they been able to easily access information online, including whether they qualified for a subsidy.

The president reiterated promises Thursday that a "tech surge" will have the website fully operational by the end of November. He needs to deliver, or he risks allowing ineptness to wholly undermine landmark legislation that has the potential to bring Americans medical security and peace of mind.

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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: 2 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: 3 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...
Updated: 11 hours ago
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