Chronicle Editorial

Latham’s alternative better than Obamacare


     Washington D.C. was inundated by partisan divide over the Obamacare debate during the past two weeks, and Tuesday’s looming threat of a government shutdown only worsened matters as the budget deadline neared.

     Drama was indeed rampant. Neither side seemed likely to budge as House Republicans called for a one-year extension before the legislation took full effect, while far right-wing members of the party insisted the bill be completely defunded. Senate Democrats also stuck to their guns and refused to cave to the GOP’s demands. The issue was tied to the ongoing battle over the budget, which was supposed to include funds to pay for Obamacare’s first year.

     Solutions to the prolonged conflict have included a long list of ideas. However, one alternative proposed by Iowa Representative Tom Latham provided a resonable solution to help bring an end to the drawn out mess.

     Amongst other provision’s, Latham’s proposal allows health insurance to be purchased across state lines; establishes nationwide small business health plans, so smaller employers can pool together and negotiate lower premiums for workers; and enhances health savings accounts by allowing people to use that money to pay premiums for the health insurance plan that’s paired with account. Additionally, Latham’s proposal keeps portions of Obamacare championed by both parties – health care is guaranteed for people with pre-existing conditions and children can still stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

     Delaying Obamacare seems to be the right move despite the potential for a shutdown of the federal government. The law is a forced measure that only promises to inflate the cost of premiums for both private citizens and businesses once it takes full effect. It’s unlikely Republicans will be able to completely block the legislation, so shifting towards proposals like the one offered by Latham is the only logical step to take as we head down an uncertain path.

     By allowing small businesses to join together when seeking out health care policies, risk is saturated and the cost is spread out to avoid steep rate fluctuations. Premiums will most likely skyrocket once Obamacare takes full effect – an influx of new insurance holders will create turbulent and unstable insurance markets as people continually join policies and leave them.

     Additionally, Latham’s provision allowing individuals and businesses to shop for insurance policies across state borders is a much needed change of pace. As we can see with our current system, people are somewhat handcuffed because they can only obtain policies within their own state. The market stagnates, options are slim and people become subject to insurance companies’ bottomline. By breaking down state boundaries, competition will thrive – that means better prices for policy holders.

     As it stands now, Obamacare threatens to raise taxes and premiums for American businesses and private citizens alike. After all, you have to pay for it somehow. It’s unlikely an agreement will be reached that makes both parties happy, and it seems we passed that possibility a long time ago. However, our legislators need make changes before shoving this law through as-is. Now is as good of time as any to implement changes like those proposed by Latham, and extending Obamacare’s deadline to 2014 is needed to prepare for this costly new law.