Healthcare reform

By Megan Resler

The Edmonds Woodway High School gymnasium overflowed with disorder and angry controversy on Aug. 30 until attendants were brought together with a national symbol of unity: “A Martha Lake Elementary student will now lead us in the pledge of allegiance,” said Congressman Jay Inslee.

The recital of the Pledge kicked off Inslee’s second of two public town hall meetings. Community members were invited to come and discuss their questions and concerns regarding health care reform.

The House health care legislation is currently pushing a public option in their health care reform plan. The public option proposes a federally-run insurance provider, paid for by the elimination of health care fraud and a tax increase on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of Americans. This plan will drive private insurance company’s costs down and make it easier for a larger percentage of the American population to gain access to health insurance.

“This reform plan will provide affordable coverage to 97 percent of Americans within two years of the public insurance program beginning,” said Inslee.

47 million Americans are currently uninsured; an additional 4 million Americans have lost their insurance since the recession began. This policy is projected to provide health care to 41,000 uninsured people in Washington, 17,900 small businesses could receive tax credits in order for them to still be able to provide their employees with health coverage, and 1,100 families would avoid bankruptcies due to inflated medical costs.

“Washington has done a great job in providing us health care in a relatively cost-effective way; if we can do nationally what we’ve done in Washington we can save a lot of money,” Inslee explained.

From 1996 to 2006 the cost of health care doubled. The current proposed federally-run health care plan promises  not to run private insurers out of business, but provide healthy competition while keeping health care inflation from rising unnecessarily high.

This plan also “bans the insurance industry practice of rejection applicants with preexisting conditions,” said Inslee. This change will guarantee health insurance for 650,000 people in Washington alone with preexisting conditions.

President Obama will be addressing Congress in a televised joint session tomorrow on his vision for health care reform.

“My belief is that a public option is fundamental,” said Inslee.