Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Obama's self-inflicted health care wounds

RECOMMENDED READING


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.

Comments

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17