EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 11, 2013

Editorial: A look at what others are saying

The Eagle-Tribune

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

Republicans ask tough questions about Obamacare

When House Republicans direct their opposition to Obamacare toward aggressive oversight rather than apocalyptic budget shenanigans, they can do themselves and the country a lot of good.

That was obvious when the House Ways and Means Committee posed some smart, tough questions about HealthCare.gov to Marilyn Tavenner, who, as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is perhaps the person most directly responsible for the fiasco. For the most part, the queries seemed designed to find a path toward more competent management of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Many of them went unanswered, unfortunately, but here are some important questions they should press again:

What happened to President Barack Obama’s promise that Americans would be able to keep their doctors and their insurance plans?

Tavenner failed to even acknowledge the frustration felt by people whose plans are now being canceled, and whose insurers are blaming it on the law. She said the government can’t stop doctors from leaving a given insurer or insurers from changing their plans. In that case, the president had no business making the pledge in the first place.

If HealthCare.gov isn’t fixed by the Nov. 30 target date, what happens to the people whose current plans expire at the end of the year?

The administration has already announced that Americans now will have until the end of March to buy coverage without having to pay a tax penalty. But that doesn’t provide health insurance starting Jan. 1 for the increasing number of citizens whose current plans are being canceled on that date. Tavenner said those people could use the call centers to buy insurance on the exchanges. But with 2 million people already being told they can’t keep their coverage, it’s unclear how many in that group the call centers can handle.

Asking hard, practical questions aimed at steering Obamacare back on course may not be as satisfying as endlessly voting to repeal the law, or obsessing over what the president knew and when he knew it. But it’s far more enlightening.

-- Bennington (Vt.) Banner

Equal justice under the law

The alleged crimes are the kind of petty terrorism that many refugees who now call Concord home hoped to leave behind. On Monday, two Concord teens were arrested for assaulting and attempting to rob a group of Nepalese immigrants of Bhutanese heritage. According to police reports, one of the teens told the immigrants, “Give us $20 or we will kill you guys.” That kind of threat, the kind that in some places sees kids killed for their sneakers, is foreign to Concord. Fortunately, though the immigrants refused payment, their injuries were minor.

That incident follows the bullying of refugees and theft of vegetables from their plots in the Sycamore Field community garden on Fort Eddy Road. An arrest was made in that case as well. Cracking the case was easy. Several of the gardeners took photographs, not just of the truck driven into the field by the accused, but of the interaction between him and members of what is primarily a garden for low-income people. Not long after that incident came the arrest of a man suspected of scrawling racist graffiti on the South End homes of refugees from Africa.

All the suspects in the three cases are white men. People forced to become refugees are usually members of a powerless minority oppressed by the majority. In both cases of theft or attempted theft, the suspects likely assumed that the Nepalese would be too fearful to report the alleged crime. They were wrong.

While the alleged thefts are crimes made more heinous because of the choice of victims, they have a silver lining: They’ve demonstrated to people who in their homelands had little reason to trust the police or receive justice that the rule of law in America applies to everyone.

-- Concord, (N.H.) Monitor