EDITORIAL: Rep. Coble Avoids Health-Care Storm
All across the nation during this white-hot August recess period, Congress members of both parties are holding town meetings at which they submit themselves to the slings and arrows of often misinformed and unconscionably rude opponents of health-care reform.
In too many cases, these "protests," though they may build on a layer of legitimate public concern, are clearly orchestrated by powerful forces that have a strong vested interest in derailing any meaningful effort to fix a system that is undeniably broken.
In North Carolina and elsewhere, Democratic supporters of health-care reform have braved public meetings at which they knew they would be heckled, insulted, shouted down, and -- in the case of Rep. Brad Miller of Raleigh, unbelievably -- threatened with death.
At least you would think a Republican House member, who is much less of a lightning rod, would also go through the motions of scheduling such meetings and hearing his constituents out with an open mind. Our own Rep. Howard Coble chose not to.
Staking Himself Out
Instead, he gave the appearance of opting out -- some would say chickening out -- of that debate by pre-emptively announcing last week that he plans to vote against the proposed health-care reform legislation to be introduced when Congress returns in September.
Perhaps Coble is only reading the handwriting on the wall and responding to what he knows are strong negative feelings back here in his home 6th District. And it must be pointed out in fairness that our representative has displayed admirable courage in the past, as when he publicly went up against the policies and actions of President George W. Bush's administration in Iraq.
Still, this latest stand seems like a disappointing lapse of statesmanship, a failure to keep an open mind, and a copping-out of the public discussion on the most important domestic issue of our time.
Coble specified that he plans to vote against the present bill, HR 3200, which he said amounts to "a government takeover of our health-care system." It doesn't. In truth, we're mostly talking not about health-care reform but health-insurance reform.
In any case, HR 3200 is far from the only proposal floating around in the current ferment on the subject. Coble has now prematurely staked himself out in a negative position that will be difficult or impossible to extricate himself from on any future legislation, no matter how it's worded.
A Missed Opportunity
Ironically, Coble prefaced his press release by noting: "Each day I hear from individuals and families suffering under the weight of unaffordable medical bills and the cost of health insurance. I believe that health-care reform must improve the quality and accessibility of care, without regard to pre-existing conditions."
Amen. We couldn't have said it better ourselves. Why, then, make a statement whose timing makes it appear, at least, to cave in to the shamefully irrational protesters who will surely whip themselves up in opposition to any future bill that takes any significant steps to solve those problems he so eloquently describes?
We would have preferred to see our friend Howard remain neutral for now and take advantage of meetings back here to set the voters straight on some of the insane health-reform rumors now raging. That old people will be sent to death camps, for instance, or that it's all a plot to finance more abortions.
That would have been a helpful contribution.
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