Cost of inaction on health care reform is too high

February 04, 2010

It is important that President Obama is focusing on jobs this week, but let's not forget that without health reform, jobs will be less and less likely to come with health insurance -- and that includes existing jobs that currently offer it. The cost of inaction on health reform will be measured in lost security, dollars, and lives.

We are fortunate that most of Maryland's elected leaders understand this weight of this choice. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin and Reps. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Donna Edwards, Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, and Chris Van Hollen have all voted for bills that put people before politics. Sadly, Reps. Frank Kratovil and Roscoe Bartlett voted to oppose reform, a choice that benefits wealthy insurance companies but not constituents. Much hard work motivated by much human tragedy has now brought us closer than ever before to guaranteeing affordable, accessible, high quality health care to everyone in this country, and our leaders must complete the process and pass this legislation.

Make no mistake: the opportunity before us is phenomenal. Both the Senate and House health bills: 1) forbid denials for pre-existing conditions; 2) forbid insurers to drop your coverage when you get sick and need it most; 3) create open, transparent marketplaces that offer comprehensive plans; 4) make insurance more affordable for individuals, families and small businesses; 5) eliminate co-pays for preventive care; 6) value quality over quantity when it comes to medical services; and 7) incentivize the training of primary care providers. These reforms will save lives and are strongly supported by doctors across specialties.

It is time for all of us to remind our senators and representatives that we expect them to see this work through with speed, pride and full confidence that Marylanders will gratefully remember their leadership come election time.

Dr. Jean Silver-Isenstadt, Washington

The writer is executive director of the National Physicians Alliance and National Physicians Alliance Foundation.

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