Now that Democrats and President Barack Obama need to win at least one or two Senate Republicans to get health-care reform enacted this year ("Mass. Sends Republican to Senate: Epic Upset Signals Trouble Ahead for President on His Health Overhaul," Jan. 20), they should be prepared to make more changes and compromises. However, they shouldn't compromise so much that the final bill is essentially meaningless and toothless -- changing very little of the way the system works and hardly expanding coverage.
While certain vital things, like a public option and Medicare for 55- to 64-year-olds, will have to be saved for another time, Democrats should hold firm on having subsidies for lower- and middle-income Americans and some expansion of Medicaid eligibility -- not to mention ending the most egregious provider practices, like denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions.
The minimum price for reform that is supported by Democrats and President Obama should be that it, within 10 years by Congressional Budget Office reckoning, does each of the following: 1) covers at least a third of the uninsured (15 million to 20 million people, lowering the percentage from 15 percent to 10 percent), 2) ends pre-existing conditions for all plans, and 3) reduces the deficit.
Finally, they should also put Republicans on notice that, while they are willing to scale back to win support for this bill, there will be other bills in the future.
ROBERT ALAN GUSTAFSON II