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October 9, 2013 at 6:00 AM

EU ambassador surprised by shutdown over Obamacare

A European perspective on the shutdown

On Tuesday, our editorial board met with Joao Vale de Almeida, the first European Union Ambassador to the United States. On tour to promote U.S.-European relations, he expressed surprise House Republican leaders are holding a vote on a federal budget hostage unless Obamacare is repealed.

Ambassador João Vale de Almeida is the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

João Vale de Almeida is the  European Union Ambassador  to the United States. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

“People in Europe sometimes have trouble understanding your health care debate particularly after legislation was passed,” de Almeida says. “(President Barack Obama) was reelected and the Supreme Court ruled. In Europe, healthcare is much less controversial and ideological, so it’s unlikely to risk the functioning of the government.”

He acknowledges the recession has forced European countries to adjust their welfare programs, but “I still realize America spends more on health care than we do with less results.” (Sad, but true. Check out The Huffington Post’s visual charts based on 2013 OECD health data.)

As this map by The Atlantic shows, those nations that offer universal coverage accept a basic notion: the health care gap can only be narrowed when more people are covered.

Washingtonians embrace Obamacare

The Associated Press reports more than 9,400 people signed up for health coverage following the Washington Health Plan Finder‘s launch on Oct. 1. The Washington Post added to the news story by praising the site’s usability:

There are an additional 10,497 people who have submitted applications for health coverage through the marketplace but are not actually enrolled, meaning they have yet to pay their first month’s premium. All told, that’s about 20,000 people who have taken a step toward signing up for coverage in Washington. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 960,000 people there without insurance — but we are only seven days into a six-month open enrollment period.

This is a great start. Now, can we count on Washington’s Republican House delegates to accept reality (Obamacare is here to stay) and convince their caucus to pass a funding bill to reopen the federal government?

Lamentably, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, continues to deliver old, tired talking points to the press. Here’s a short clip posted Tuesday on the House Republican Conference chairwoman’s Facebook page:

“We’re elected to govern. We’re elected to make the tough decisions, and yet the president and the Senate Democrats want to take the easy way out,” she said Tuesday. “That’s not acceptable to us. That’s not acceptable to the American people.”

Tell us, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers, how is it acceptable to repeal or delay a law thousands of Washingtonians clearly want? Is placing their health and the nation’s financial credibility at risk really worth it?

Comments | Topics: cathy mcmorris rodgers, european union, health care


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