Commentary: Health care should be Obama's top priority

This editorial appeared in The Wichita Eagle.

The economy will limit President-elect Barack Obama's agenda, especially in his first 100 days or first year. But former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole has an excellent suggestion for where Obama should start. "In my view, he picks out one priority, which I hope would be health care, and make that the No. 1 thing he wants to do," Dole suggested at a recent appearance in Grinnell, Iowa.

And doing so is more complicated than raising taxes versus cutting costs, Dole added. "I don't think we can continue on the one track and just say we raise taxes. Reform means reform. It means, look at the cost side, too."

This from a guy who argued in 1994, as leader of the opposition to Hillary Clinton's health care plan, that the status quo was working fine for 85 percent of Americans and didn't need "a triple bypass" or a "massive overdose of government."

Few can ignore the problems now, including that nearly 50 million people are uninsured, that 15 percent of the nation's economy goes to health care, that health benefits costs to employers rose another 6 percent this year, and that health care obligations for workers and retirees have helped drive the automakers and other industries to the brink.

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