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posted: 11/17/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: It's time for bipartisan solutions on health care

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

You may remember Joe Walsh. A flamboyant populist conservative from the suburbs, he ran for Congress in 2010 because, he said, he was worried about his country. He served for two years before Tammy Duckworth and redistricting turned him out of office.

He's now a radio broadcaster, doing what he does best -- talk and refer often to himself by name,

Thursday night, his primary topic was the new federal health care law and its mounting problems. The gist of what Walsh had to say: Republicans should take time to "enjoy" the debacle, "laugh" at the Democrats, "laugh" at the news media that he sees as complicit in propping up "our black president," and "laugh" at the American people who presumably weren't critical enough of the health care legislation.

Over and over, Walsh emphasized that the Republican response should be laughter.

So much, apparently, for being worried about his country.

We are, this morning, frustrated by the inept implementation of the health care law and outraged by the disingenuous rhetoric its supporters including President Barack Obama used to promote it.

The damage of all this affects real people, as Political Editor Mike Riopell illustrated in his profile Friday of a Glen Ellyn family that is losing its health insurance policy.

But we are, this morning, frustrated even more by the lack of public spirit on the part of our so-called public servants.

The jobs of the people we elect are to solve problems.

Yet, we have, this morning, no confidence that that is what our elected representatives will strive to do. And we doubt most of the public has much confidence about that either.

The nation suffocates under the toxic partisan atmosphere in Washington. Instead of solving problems, the people we elect war in constant political campaigns.

This is true of both parties -- Democrats and Republicans.

Fundamentally, the country has four major health insurance challenges:

1. For too many, catastrophic illnesses lead to bankruptcy.

2. Those with pre-existing conditions ought to be covered.

3. Many lack even basic health coverage.

4. Health care costs keep rising uncontrollably.

Those are the primary challenges. For the most part, Democrats and Republicans agree.

Why, then, can't they get together and figure something out?

The response to the problems with the rollout of the new health care law ought not to be laughter. It ought to be fixing the problems.

This affects real people.

There is no better time for Obama to reach across the aisle in a spirit of genuine collaboration. And there is no better time for Republicans of good will to genuinely be receptive.

The jobs of the people we elect are to solve problems.

When it comes to health care, it's time they start solving them.

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