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Columns

August 8, 2009

Obama, take time to get reform right

President Obama's commitment to health care reform was one reason he got my vote.

And while I admire his desire to make good on the promise during his first year in office, I'm glad it hasn't happened just yet.

Judging by the debate swirling around the Senate and the misconceptions and concerns aired in the media over the last few weeks, Obama needs to slow down a little bit, get the American people behind his plan, and make sure it's done right.

Otherwise, I'm afraid we'll end up with a plan that costs too much, is too cumbersome to execute or doesn't have a public health insurance option.

We absolutely need a public option. It's the only reasonable way to give the 47 million Americans without insurance a chance at coverage.

Forcing the insurance companies to compete against a government-run program is the best compromise between a single-payer system, which is too drastic to ever be accepted here, and the current system, which is too inefficient and expensive to sustain.

According to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the United States spent approximately $2.2 trillion on health care in 2007, or $7,421 per person _ more than we spend on housing or food and nearly twice the average of other developed nations.

Having the most expensive health care system in the world does not mean we are the healthiest, however.

The United States ranks 24th in life expectancy among developed countries; only three developed countries have higher infant mortality rates; and more than one-third of Americans are obese.

Crazy things are going on, and not just the life-and-death stories Obama tells to convey his sense of urgency.

How about the women who would like to be at home caring for their children, but instead are working at jobs they don't enjoy and spending their entire paychecks on day care, because they need the health insurance?

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