EDITORIAL: Murkowski on health

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's take on health care reform is that it's absolutely necessary -- but she's worried that Congress is trying to do too much too fast. Proposals on the table so far, she says, would hurt small businesses and not improve conditions for Medicare recipients, among other problems. Murkowski, who spoke at a Commonwealth North forum in Anchorage on Tuesday, proposes breaking health care reform into pieces and approving them one at a time. 

As a first item, Congress could work to achieve cost savings by emphasizing preventive care, she said. Taking better care of people with chronic conditions -- and keeping them out of medical crises -- would save money, she said. 

Sen. Murkowski, a Republican and member of the Senate minority, is a thoughtful critic of the Democratic-led health care reform process. But America has been addressing health care in a piecemeal manner for a long time, and that hasn't gotten us anywhere near where we need to be. We still have the highest cost system in the world, and far from the best. Our infant mortality rate is higher than other industrialized countries, our life expectancy is lower and our rates of preventable deaths are higher. 

Part of the reason is that so many people -- an estimated 46 million -- don't have insurance, and don't get the care they should.  

It's going to take dramatic action to turn this pitiful situation around. Congress should persevere and approve comprehensive health care reform. Sen. Murkowski and her colleagues need to keeping moving forward with all deliberate speed -- carefully enough to avoid adopting ill-considered ideas, but not so slowly that special interests have time to construct roadblocks and make mischief.  

Sen. Murkowski raises some valid concerns. But that doesn't mean Congress should tackle reform bit by bit. We've done that in the past, and it hasn't worked.  

BOTTOM LINE: America's health care costs too much and isn't good enough. Congress should move ahead with major reform.

By:  Originally published by the Anchorage Daily News on August 13, 2009
Source: She's an able critic, but wants a slowdown that wouldn't help