Support for health care reform sags, but crisis grows

Polls show waning support for health care reform. While more than 60 percent favored re-form following President Barack Obama’s election. That support has shrunk to a little over 50 percent, pollsters report.
That huge change came about because critics have raised fears that the president’s plan was too expensive and might cause more harm than good.
The key words are fear and doubt.
Health care now consumes about 17 percent of the nation’s gross national product — more than one out of every seven dollars spent in our economy. Changing the system would affect every man, woman and child in the country to some degree.
It is not surprising that a majority of Americans have grown very nervous at the prospect of such a nation-changing reform; a nervousness made even more wrenching by the worst worldwide recession in 50 years.
Opposition to reform also grows from the fact that about 84 percent of U.S. households have health insurance that covers ordinary needs. Those lucky enough to have coverage that has proved adequate for their own family health ex-penses lack a personal sense of urgency on the issue.
The 16 percent who are uninsured are unorgan-ized and have no political voice.
The under-insured, a much larger group, are largely unaware of their exposure to financial disaster growing from a major illness or serious injury.
Those who do get overwhelmed by massive medical costs, such as Cody Wools and his family in Humboldt, are too few in numbers to carry much weight in the national health care conversation.
Facing these facts, President Obama and his supporters are reduced to logical arguments that may not drive folks to action.
It is true that the United States spends almost twice as much on health care as does any other nation without creating better health outcomes; it is true that health care costs continue to rise faster than inflation and threaten to overwhelm the federal budget within a few years; it is true that the Medicare program itself faces bankruptcy in 2017 unless costs are reined in; but it is not true that these facts drive the average American to demand Congressional action.
That’s the challenge that faces the president as he prepares to address a joint session of Congress — and the American people — Wednesday.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.