EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 21, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The following are excerpts from editorials in other newspapers across New England:

On Oct. 8, as the Supreme Court heard arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC, various left-of-center organizations asserted the justices “must” uphold remaining limits on political donations.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center, said “aggregate limits are exactly the type of protections the Founders envisioned.” Closer to home, MassPIRG and Common Cause Massachusetts issued a statement urging the justices “to stop handing our democracy over to special interests and wealthy campaign donors.”

These groups regularly lament the supposed ill effects of the 2010 ruling Citizens United v. FEC, which struck down portions of the 2001 McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law.

If McCutcheon finishes what Citizens United began, it will be a victory for the Constitution. For, contrary to Waldman’s claim, the Founding Fathers never envisioned a law to abridge the free speech rights of Americans.

Sure, American politics has changed, and the sums involved in parties and factions promoting their visions grow ever larger. But so do the options Americans have to express their views.

Between the passage of McCain-Feingold and the Supreme Court striking down portions of it, Americans re-elected Republican George W. Bush (2004) and elected Democrat Barack H. Obama (2008).

Following Citizens United — when money allegedly flooded the process — Obama won passage of comprehensive health care reform, and was re-elected (2012).

The role of the Supreme Court is not to do the political will of any one party or faction. It is simply to determine the constitutionality of laws as they pertain to actual controversies.

The remedy for free speech that has led to results one does not like is not to petition a court to restrict the rights of other Americans to spend their money on the political process. No court can grant such relief. The only remedy is still more — and more persuasive — free speech, leading to results one prefers.

— The Telegram & Gazette (Worcester)

Medicare rule needs fix

At a time when bipartisan has somehow become a four-letter word in Washington, Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney of Connecticut and Congressman Tom Latham, an Iowa Republican, deserve credit for doggedly reaching across party lines to try to correct a senseless and unfair Medicare rule.

For the third consecutive year, Reps. Courtney and Latham have co-sponsored the Improving Access to Medicare Coverage Act. If passed into law, it would end a rule that in 2012 prevented more than 600,000 senior citizens from getting Medicare coverage for their doctor-ordered convalescent stays.

The denial of Medicare coverage forces these seniors to choose between spending tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for their convalescent care or returning home or to family, without getting the level of care the doctor advised.

At issue is the “observation status” designation. A patient admitted to a hospital for three nights or more is eligible to have follow-up, doctor-ordered care in a convalescent home paid for by Medicare. The exception, however, is if the patient is in the hospital for “observation.” In those cases, there is no subsequent Medicare coverage.

The Courtney-Latham bill would allow for the time patients spend in the hospital under observation status to count toward the three-day hospital stay requirement for convalescent home or skilled-nursing care under Medicare. A matching bill, introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is pending in the Senate.

It is a breach of faith to deny so many elderly the financial support necessary to get the care doctors say they need.

Congress and the Senate should adopt the Courtney-Latham-Brown bills and President Obama should sign the legislation into law.

— The Day of New London (Conn.)