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Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009

Issue of the Week: A Breakthrough on Health Care Reform

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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The news of health care reform’s death has been greatly exaggerated.

While there’s still much more work to be done, on Saturday 60 senators—all Democrats plus two independents—cast historic votes to prohibit a filibuster on health care reform by self-serving Republicans.

While most news coverage focuses on the intense politics of the health care reform debate, little light has been shed on the contents of the House and Senate bills. Both would expand health insurance coverage to more than 31 million Americans while reducing the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. Both bills contain a public option. Both expand Medicaid coverage to low-income non-elderly people and both would provide subsidies to people with low incomes so they can purchase health insurance. And both would prohibit insurance companies from denying policyholders the health care coverage that they purchased in good faith. That means no more immoral denials based on pre-existing conditions.

The changes are impressive and more are to come as the Senate debates its final bill, which it then must reconcile with the House bill. We’d like lawmakers to ensure that low-income and middle-class families can afford quality coverage without government-funded giveaways to the same profit-driven insurance companies that got us into this mess.

Momentum is on the side of reform. We’re glad that the Senate did not block debate on an issue that the majority of Americans voted for last November.

Hero of the Week

Beverly Broaden-Ferrin

November is National Adoption Month, created to raise awareness about the thousands of children in foster care waiting for placement with their “forever” families. Last week, Wisconsin first lady Jessica Doyle and Department of Children and Families Secretary Reggie Bicha heralded six families with the Governor’s Outstanding Adoptive Parent Awards. Among those recognized was Beverly Broaden-Ferrin, a single parent and foster mother in Milwaukee who adopted two special-needs children. Broaden-Ferrin cares for additional foster children as well, and finds the time, despite her 40-hour workweek, to teach parent-training modules to others. For her above-and-beyond efforts on behalf of children in need, the Shepherd Express makes Broaden-Ferrin our Hero of the Week, and gives thanks to all area foster parents who have opened their homes to area youth.

Jerk of the Week

County Supervisor Lynne DeBruin

“Jerk” is too strong of a word to describe Supervisor Lynne DeBruin for her votes on the Milwaukee County Board, but we are extremely disappointed with her for caving in to pressure from the Citizens for Responsible Government, an extreme right-wing group, and voting with County Executive Scott Walker’s team on a majority of the veto overrides. For example, DeBruin had always supported mental health issues, yet under pressure from the county executive’s team, she voted to sustain Walker’s vetoes on the Detox Program Redesign and the Community AODA contracts. She had also been a strong supporter of labor issues, yet voted to sustain Walker’s privatization efforts, outsourcing jobs in housekeeping services and security. Her district is moderate, but if these issues were carefully explained to her constituents, a majority would certainly support her holding the line against Walker’s excesses.

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