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THEIR OPINION: House fails on health care reform

BISMARCK -- The U.S. Congress plays a dangerous game with health care reform. The constantly morphing reform measures represent dramatic change for the health care industry, insurance companies, the people who rely on the health care system and t...

BISMARCK -- The U.S. Congress plays a dangerous game with health care reform. The constantly morphing reform measures represent dramatic change for the health care industry, insurance companies, the people who rely on the health care system and the nation's economic well-being.

Frankly, the all-consuming debate in the U.S. House and Senate have people anxious, if not fearful. The often-good relationships many people have with their nurses and doctors, clinics and hospitals, have become uncertain. We are a worried nation.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., voted for the House version of health care reform.

He did so, he said, because people in North Dakota want change in their health care. They want to put a stop to the increasing costs of health insurance.

While the Tribune agrees health care reform is needed, the legislation passed by the House isn't the right response. It does not appear to effectively control the rising costs of health care or insurance. And although it will provide coverage for the uninsured, it mandates that everyone be insured and relies on a government-run option, which we strongly oppose and believe most North Dakotans oppose.

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Pomeroy agrees that the House version of reform is far from perfect but that he voted yes to keep the conversation going. And if the problems with the legislation are not fixed, he would vote no, if and when the reform packages returns to the House after supposed Senate approval and work by a conference committee.

Rejecting the legislation, he said, and starting again from scratch isn't an option. Getting a good bill through the House, however, was an option, one House members missed the mark on.

The House and Senate ideas about health care reform are not parallel. The two chambers pay for the reform in different ways, provide government-run options in different ways, provide different subsidies and offer a multitude of changes in how health care operates in this country.

By voting in favor of the House reform package, Pomeroy rationalizes that he has helped keep the conversation going, but there's no guarantee that the end result will be good for North Dakotans. There's a belief floating around, one that finds its origins in the Obama administration, that it doesn't matter what the reform package ends up being, as long as something passes -- that Congress and the administration can fix the problems with it later.

It was critical to get it right the first time, rather than to cobble together a cluster of ill-advised expedient compromises. This is a case where pragmatism isn't the high road. Pomeroy should have put North Dakotans first and voted no on the legislation as drafted rather than following party lines.

North Dakotans may want health care change, but they don't want a new system that's more expensive, does not serve their needs and makes government an intrusive partner in health care.

Related Topics: HEALTHCARE
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