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Compromise key to success on health reform

Compromise key to success on health reform

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Enough with the speeches. Enough with the name-calling - at "tea parties" and on the floor of the House of Representatives. Let's get down to business, find common ground and improve health care coverage in the United States.

Notice that we said "improve" - not radically reform or remake.

We need to increase cooperation and lower expectations.

President Obama was correct Wednesday when he said, "Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together ...," adding later in the speech, "I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead."

There is no "common ground" for radically altering health care and, most likely, there is no common ground for a "public option" for health insurance, not even among Obama's fellow Democrats. The president all but acknowledged that in saying "we should remain open to other ideas."

Obama provided a broad outline of what he wants in his plan, but details were still minimal. And this is truly an instance where the devil is in the details - as anyone knows who has failed to read the fine print in their health insurance contracts and found themselves without coverage when needed.

Insurance companies need to be held accountable. Incentives provided to insurance companies to pay out as little as possible and deny claims breeds conflict and mistrust - not to mention unfair and sometimes deadly outcomes.

Obama's speech disappointingly made only passing reference to costs associated with malpractice litigation. His solution seems to be aimed only at the medical side, not the legal side.

While taking steps to limit medical errors leading to malpractice cases is, of course, important, the nation also needs to reform the legal system that leads to jackpot justice. Without tort reform, medical costs will continue to go up because of higher malpractice insurance premiums and tests or procedures ordered mainly to defend against possible lawsuits.

The biggest detail missing from Obama's plan is how to pay for it - especially if a public option in instituted.

It's one thing to claim health care reforms won't increase the federal deficit; it's another thing to spell out how it will be paid for without increasing the deficit.

One way to limit the cost is to focus on areas such as creating insurance pools through which individuals and small businesses can have the advantage of spreading the risks across a larger number of people.

Trying to do too much too quickly is a prescription for disaster.

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