OUR OPINION: Health care reform dysfunction hard to swallow | Opinion

We’re the ham and Swiss, sandwiched between the “wry” of figuring out health care in America.

Eating away at our “greatest nation on earth” mantra is the fact our people are suffering. Many can’t afford medical insurance, and they delay going to the doctor because they haven’t the money to pay for treatment. Preventive care? Forget about it.

Those of us who do have health insurance increasingly pull more greenbacks from our wallet to pay high premiums and hefty deductibles.

Pity, because we won’t be able to afford the mental health care to help us deal with our angst over the situation.

We are not alone in our frustration. Health care providers, insurance agents and many more are being swept up, too, in the Washington washout.

Our decades-long struggle to put in place a broad health care system came into being with the Affordable Care Act, but the partisan measure — Democrats muscled it through Congress and President Obama inked it into law — came with its own ills.

But instead of treating it as a foundation on which to build, Republicans spent years verbally tearing it down and setting the stage for GOP lawmakers to swoop in to save the day with a better plan.

Trouble is, they can’t gather any more momentum than a turkey trying to stay aloft.

First, candidate Donald Trump said he would repeal Obamacare on Day 1 of his presidency. It didn’t happen.

House Republicans did roll out an alternative plan, the American Health Care Act of 2017, but the Senate — under intense pressure from constituents and stakeholders — disavowed it as detrimental to millions of Americans, many of whom rely on Medicaid to cover health care costs.

A Senate proposal, crafted by Republicans behind closed doors, fared no better when details showed it would be catastrophic for people with pre-existing conditions, coverage now provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Reform strategy has run the gamut, from:

• repeal and replace with a brand spankin’ new GOP plan, to

• let Obamacare fail, then come up with a plan, to

• repeal and delay, the thinking being that if lawmakers have a couple more years to figure it out, they’ll come up with a plan.

This swirl of dysfunction is giving Americans a headache — and we can’t even afford the meds to make it go away.

But we can let those elected to serve us in Washington know that we expect them to craft health care reform that is transformational. The solutions will only be found through bipartisan collaboration.

Provisions must include:

• Reduced treatment costs,

• Lower prescription drug prices,

• Access to preventive care, and

• Coverage of pre-existing conditions.

That’s just the start. Hospitals and clinics should focus more on patients and less on who pays, insurance companies must make the claims process less cumbersome, and pharmaceutical firms have to stop getting rich off pill prices.

Meaningful change, though, begins with our elected pathfinders in Washington. Thus far, they’ve lost their way.

The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Susan Duncan, Assistant Editor Chris Morris, Assistant Editor Jason Thomas and Digital Editor Elizabeth DePompei.

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