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home : opinions : opinions
September 21, 2017

The Publisher's Pen
Jason Sturek

Senate needs to slow way down on health care — or Pender area might pay the price

There’s an adage that politics is local. And when it comes to the specifics of how we spend our tax dollars here in the Pender area, that is absolutely true. Talk to a local politician or government employee and you learn faster than a gnat in a windstorm that state and federal legislation is what sets the landscape and fuels the proverbial car, though. After all, we may be able to steer where we want to go, but it doesn’t work well if there’s no gas in the tank and roads are closed.

That’s exactly why anyone in the Pender area — and all of rural America — ought to be taking a very close look at what is happening in the Senate with potential passage of a health care reform bill that would undo much of the so-called “Obamacare,” but, by the estimates of the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, leave more than 22 million Americans uninsured and cause seismic shifts in how government reimbursement programs like Medicare and Medicaid work.

That health care has become a political issue is perhaps not surprising. In few other arenas does “philosophical” meet “practical” than when it comes to how we fund caring for the sick and injured. But we’ve got to slow down this train to wherever it may be heading and be thoughtful. Americans ought to be afforded more information on what Congress is doing and its ramifications — and then have some time to react. That’s because, no matter how conservative you may be, when you begin to understand how these tweaks might unravel a very large part of our local economy, it is downright scary.

Word close to the deadline for this column is that any vote will be delayed until after a July 4 recess of Congress. That gives those of us in rural areas, where demographics are generally older and where the Senate has traditionally been the champion of less populated interests, an opportunity to learn more about what this bill would mean for us and to cry foul if it’s as damaging as some say. I shared my concerns with health care leadership here in Pender in hopes that I was wrong about what the bill might mean. I wasn’t. There is too much at stake and too little known — even within the ranks of folks whose entire careers are to know about it — to settle for a rushed law that might steer dollars out of rural America. One does not have to believe that the Affordable Care Act championed by the Democrats is perfect to argue that its modification or repeal must be about sound policy — not change for the sake of change by a hasty Republican Congress.

Call your Senator and say, “Slow down.” Or we might really pay.

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