Commentary: Murkowski's slowdown on health care reform won't help

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski's take on health care reform is that it's absolutely necessary — but she's worried that Congress is trying to do too much too fast. Proposals on the table so far, she says, would hurt small businesses and not improve conditions for Medicare recipients, among other problems. Murkowski, who spoke at a Commonwealth North forum in Anchorage on Tuesday, proposes breaking health care reform into pieces and approving them one at a time.

As a first item, Congress could work to achieve cost savings by emphasizing preventive care, she said. Taking better care of people with chronic conditions — and keeping them out of medical crises — would save money, she said.

Sen. Murkowski, a Republican and member of the Senate minority, is a thoughtful critic of the Democratic-led health care reform process. But America has been addressing health care in a piecemeal manner for a long time, and that hasn't gotten us anywhere near where we need to be. We still have the highest cost system in the world, and far from the best. Our infant mortality rate is higher than other industrialized countries, our life expectancy is lower and our rates of preventable deaths are higher.

Part of the reason is that so many people — an estimated 46 million — don't have insurance, and don't get the care they should.

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