I am a Republican and I support legislative efforts to find real health care coverage options for our fellow Idahoans who find themselves in the “coverage gap.” What’s more, I’m proud of those who are looking beyond rhetoric to find solutions for those who have fallen through the cracks.
I find it disappointing that, in his recent opinion piece, the chairman of my party would reduce an issue of vital importance to all Idahoans to a political “us versus them” argument. Instead of acknowledging Dr. Kenneth Krell’s years of experience treating patients who are suffering, he chooses to insult the good doctor’s intentions and urges us to dismiss them based on accusations of party affiliation. This isn’t the path to a solution. In Idaho, we can do better than that.
Those who engage in public service know that finding real answers to complicated issues is difficult work. It’s unfortunate that some are so dismissive of the decisions facing our lawmakers in the area of health care. Instead of criticizing them, we should be encouraging them to dig in and find solutions. Instead of threatening those who engage in the conversation, we should support the efforts of our dedicated lawmakers to address real issues facing Idahoans. Our citizens deserve no less.
I am proud to live in a community that looks out for our neighbors. I applaud the many health care professionals who donate their time to the free clinics, the hospitals and charities that provide care even when individuals cannot pay, and the churches who step in to offer assistance when needed. This has been our approach for decades, but the shortcomings are becoming more and more apparent. Unfortunately, it’s just not enough.
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Blaming others for Idaho’s uninsured gets us nowhere. We must do more. With the enormous success of our party, we have controlled the Idaho Legislature for many years. With that power comes responsibility. If we haven’t developed a plan to improve access to health care coverage in Idaho, we need to reflect on our own commitment to the issue. Idahoans have repeatedly expressed their desire for a solution. For thousands of Idahoans, it is much more than desire. They have voiced their desperation and suffering with cries for help. We must step up and find a complete solution to what is clearly a health care crisis in Idaho.
There are viable, fiscally responsible options on the table. Some include opportunities to dismantle inefficient state and county programs, cut property taxes and create jobs. As Republicans, shouldn’t we be taking them seriously? Shouldn’t we be looking for a more cost-effective plan that works for Idaho?
I commend those legislators who are listening to Idahoans and willing to take on the tough issues. At times, instead of asking if a proposal is Republican or Democrat, we should ask if it is right or wrong. I support efforts to close the coverage gap for my fellow Idahoans because it is the right thing to do.
Eric K. Peterson, of Lewiston, is Precinct Committee Person, Nez Perce Republican Central Committee.