New England editorial roundup
The Sun of Lowell (Mass.), Aug. 1, 2012.
Our presumptive Republican presidential nominee's just concluded rocky international road tour simply proves that whatever doesn't play in Des Moines won't work in London or Jerusalem either.
Worse yet, our former governor, Mitt Romney, couldn't even conceal his blunders behind the hoopla of the Summer Olympics. On the contrary, he used that event as a backdrop for some of his unfortunate remarks.
A "softball" tour of Great Britain, Israel and Poland -- three of this nation's staunchest allies -- proved to be a public-relations -- and foreign-relations -- nightmare. Mitt's penchant for uttering the wrong phrase at exactly the most inopportune time has ruffled feathers from London to Beijing -- much to the delight of Team Obama.
Politics often requires a head of state -- even an aspiring one -- to be politic, something Mitt and his advisers seem unaware of.
It all began when Romney opened his trip by insulting the British on what was intended to be a feel-good visit to the London Olympics.
Mitt managed to put Prime Minister David Cameron in a snit by wondering whether officials there were fully prepared to host the Olympic Games. Instead of praising the Brits for their efforts while patting himself on the back for his oversight of the Salt Lake City Games, he lectured the host nation on its shortcomings.
Having apparently learned nothing from that experience, Mitt then traveled to Israel, where on Monday he managed to outrage Palestinians during a reception with a bevy of wealthy Jewish donors by praising their culture as the reason Israel has achieved so much, as opposed to its neighbors.
Obviously, there is a politic way to praise the Israelis for their economic success and not demean the Palestinians at the same time.
That unintended slight earned Mitt the scorn of Palestinian leaders and beyond, and provided the president with a bounce in his step.
Even Romney's stop in Poland -- which reveres Ronald Reagan for his help in ridding the country of communism -- wasn't without controversy.
There he met with the Cold War-era Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, earning his endorsement. However, the country's current union leadership distanced itself from Walesa's words, noting Romney's apparent antagonism toward labor.
Aside from inflicting a severe case of growing pains, it's doubtful Romney's ill-timed words will cause any permanent harm. After all, this is a domestic-driven election, in which job creation trumps any international insensitivity.
The Sun Journal of Lewiston (Maine), Aug. 1, 2012
There was a brief kerfuffle last week when
One young man, who was shot in the eye when gunman James Holmes inexplicably opened fire in a theater full of people, could face $2 million in bills.
The public outrage lasted two days before three of the five hospitals said they would pay those bills and cap the expenses of all victims. The other two hospitals are expected to follow suit.
Crisis averted. Big relief.
But the shooting raises a critical question about health care in the U.S. and the Affordable Care Act.
If it seems unacceptable to us that these unfortunate people should be bankrupted by their experience, how about the tens of thousands of people whose finances are wiped out by similarly random medical problems?
Two Harvard studies have found more than half of bankruptcies result from medical expenses or loss of income for medical reasons.
Consider a young, single woman who works for low wages at a company that does not offer health care insurance.
When she develops breast cancer or a brain tumor, not only will she be responsible for the cost of that treatment, but she will be left struggling to pay bills even as she is fighting for her life.
How can a wealthy nation think that is acceptable or just?
In the end, the hospital will write off as charity care what it cannot collect from this woman and eventually pass those expenses on to insurance policy holders and the companies they work for.
Meanwhile, this young lady will -- if she survives -- move forward with a bankruptcy hanging over her head and likely be unable to obtain insurance coverage at any cost because of her previous illness.
Workers and employers end up paying her bills, anyway, but the current system puts her through additional agony, ruins her credit and leaves her uninsurable.
That makes no sense.
The ACA may not be perfect, but it does address some of these extreme inequities. First, it would offer her a lower-cost way to obtain the benefits of health insurance and would require other insurance companies to insure her, despite her prior illness.
We can complain about the individual mandate provision of the ACA all day long, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional and even though it would only apply to between 1 and 3 percent of people currently without health insurance.
But to those who say repeal the ACA now, we ask a simple question: If we think it is fair that half a dozen shooting victims not be ruined by medical expenses, how do we feel about all those who are similarly struck down by accident or illness and will never receive media coverage?
About 50 million people in this country do honest work and are not eligible for Medicaid or Medicare and have no health insurance. If you are not one of those people and have good employer health insurance, you certainly realize your good coverage, or your job, can disappear at any time.
While there is much we can all do to control our health, many things are beyond our control.
You may be one of the people who never smoked and yet develop lung cancer. You might find yourself at midlife with a defective heart valve. Or you might cut your fingers off with a circular saw when you are between insurance companies.
Are we willing as a civilized society to say, hey, good luck with all that?
The ACA is not perfect, but it's the only thing Congress has done to address these problems in 50 years.
If not this, then what?