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Public still wants health reform

Our Opinion

President Obama’s loosely defined ideas for reforming health care have taken a beating in the past few weeks from objectors who have flooded town hall meetings or even called the president a liar from the House floor. All this noise and emotion haven’t altered the fact that most Americans want changes in this nation’s system of providing health insurance. For recent local proof, we need only to refer to a new poll conducted during the past weekend for the Portland Tribune and Fox 12 News. According to the survey by Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall Inc., 60 percent of Oregon’s registered voters either strongly or somewhat support Obama’s health care proposals, compared with 36 percent who either strongly or somewhat oppose them and 7 percent who were undecided. In other words, a solid majority of Oregonians want health care reform — even after hearing weeks of negative commentary and even though they don’t know exactly what that reform ultimately will look like. We believe that, on this topic, Oregonians aren’t much different than most Americans. We also believe that they have very simple and often very personal reasons for thinking the current system must be reformed. People want to know that their health coverage is secure. They don’t want their coverage denied or limited due to a pre-existing health condition. They fear losing their health insurance if they lose their jobs. They are staggered by the rising cost of health care and insurance premiums. They don’t want to see a neighbor or a relative — or anyone else, for that matter — go without the benefits of health care simply because he or she cannot afford insurance. These basic issues form the basis for discontent with the existing system. Yes, health care consumers would like less red tape and bureaucracy, but what the debate really ought to boil down to is the question of providing decent coverage for everyone at a reasonable expense. The public consensus on this fundamental point seems unlikely to dissolve —and that’s because all of us under age 65 are vulnerable to the insecurities of the current system. Oregon’s congressional representatives and senators should pay attention to the majority of their constituents and focus on passing health care reform that ensures adequate coverage for all.