In the News
In the Know
A campaign that was too long, too costly,
Health Reform’s ‘Joe Friday’ Moment
too bitter and too loud has produced a health care
reform bill that is now the law of the land. It has not
been easy. But this law affects almost every aspect
of health and medical care in America. That makes
it especially important to clear the fog of arrogance
illness or preexisting conditions like asthma or diabetes. Nor can
they cancel coverage because you got sick.
; It does mean that 32 million uninsured people will now get
coverage. It does mean that the Medicare prescription drug pro-
gram’s infamous “doughnut hole” will close over 10 years, that
the Medicare program will be strengthened and its fiscal life ex-
tended at least nine years. It does mean that solid steps are being
taken to curb health care costs, which, left unchecked, would
continue to bankrupt families, penalize U.S. corporations—and
and ignorance that surrounded the Path to passage
ON THE COVER: SELÇUK DEMIREL; INSE T: DANIEL HENNESS Y THIS PAGE: PAUL MORSE, R YAN KELLY/CONGRESSIONAL QUAR TERLY/GE TT Y IMAGES, TIM SLOAN/AFP/GE T T Y IMAGES
extended debate and concentrate
on what the bill actually does. Call
this a “Joe Friday moment.” As the
famous Los Angeles Dragnet de-
tective would say, “All we want are
the facts, ma’am.” Here they are:
JAN. 20, ’09 President Obama promises
to “raise health care’s quality and
lower its cost” at his inauguration.
JULY-OCT. Five congressional
committees approve widely
differing reform bills.
; This is not a government takeover of
the nation’s health care system. Virtual-
ly all of the 160 million Americans with
employer-sponsored coverage will be able to keep it. The 15
million now self-insured and 32 million uninsured will also
have the option of private coverage.
; This is not a budget buster; it is projected to trim future spend-
ing by over $1 trillion by 2029. This is not a bill that provides
end-of-life counseling by government “death panels,” but
will expand Medicare coverage to include annual preventive
checkups. The measure does mean that insurance companies
soon will no longer be able to deny coverage because of serious
AUG. Grassroots hostility to
lawmakers’ reforms erupts
at town hall meetings.
threaten the careers of their employees. And that’s just a start.
The great shame has been the unwillingness of Democrats and
Republicans to find common ground, despite the importance of
the issue. One irony is that the plan enacted with no Republican
support is so close to plans proposed by Republican icons Richard
Nixon and Ronald Reagan. You’d never know it with all the racket,
but there’s plenty in this legislation that has broad public benefit.
To paraphrase the creator of Joe Friday and Dragnet, “Ladies and
gentlemen: The story you have just read is true. Only the distor-
tions of this past year’s debate have been changed to protect the
future.” –Jim Toedtman, editor
; As we went to press, the Senate was still in deliberation on the
House’s reconciliation bill. For the latest health care reform news,
go to bulletin.aarp.org.
AARP Bulletin April 2010, Volume 51, No. 3 (USPS Number 002-900; ISSN 1044-1123) is published monthly except February and August by AARP, 601 E St. N.W., Washington, DC 20049 (telephone: 1-888-687-2277). Internet site: bulletin.aarp.org, “The Newspaper of 50-Plus America.” Sales and
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