Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 18
For much of the six years since it went into effect, the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been ideological and partisan. But now, with its most substantive provisions kicking in, the debate will be about its real-world effects on health care costs, employment and business competitiveness.
Many employers and individuals are finding that the law’s promise of “bending the cost curve” rings hollow.
Owners of businesses employing between 50 and 99 workers will feel the pointy end of the law this year because, for the first time, they are subject to penalties for failure to provide health insurance to their employees; $2,160 per worker. And even those who have provided health coverage for years are feeling the sting: The owners of Weiland’s Market in Clintonville, Jennifer Williams and Scott Bowman, say their health-insurance costs shot up 34 percent this year over last.
“We’ve seen big increases every year, but that’s the biggest we’ve seen,” Williams recently told The Dispatch. “It was a tough pill to swallow.”
These pressures could force business owners already working on small profit margins to raise costs to customers. If customers balk and go elsewhere, that could lead to hiring freezes, layoffs and even a shutdown of a small, locally owned business…
Akron Beacon Journal, Jan. 14
President Obama often faces the criticism, from the Republican presidential campaign trail and elsewhere, about failing to see fully the threat posed by the Islamic State. Those critics argue that the country must go to war. They overlook that the president already has responded with military might. Air strikes began more than a year ago.
Those strikes have been indispensable to slowing and reversing gains made on the ground by the Islamic State. The president also has deployed special forces. Are those steps aggressive enough? That is the realm for debate, including the question of what should be expected of this country when the fight lacks a sufficient fighting force from the Arab region to counter the Islamic State.
And what better place for a discussion than Capitol Hill? Unfortunately, the Republican majorities in Congress have resisted calls for lawmakers to authorize a war. The president has relied on the authority provided by lawmakers in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, now 14 years ago. As he put it last month in speaking to the nation in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks and reiterated this week, Congress should act “to demonstrate that the American people are united and committed to this fight…”
The (Findlay) Courier, Jan. 13
With Ohio’s heroin epidemic still going strong, officials must use every weapon to halt it. That includes going to the heart of the problem: prescription pain medications.
Many of those who overdose on heroin first became addicted to legal opiates, such as OxyContin or Vicodin.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, both said Jan. 11 they support new prescribing guidelines proposed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The guidelines would be for primary-care physicians and are intended to curb addiction by encouraging patients to use over-the-counter painkillers first, recommending prescription time limits, urging lower doses, and monitoring people taking opiates.
If approved later this year, the guidelines would be advisory, not mandatory, but could go a long way to influence physicians, insurers, and government agencies.
Doctors wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012. That number has been declining since, but it is still considered to be too high by many experts.
Sprague, who has become Ohio’s point man in the war on heroin, hopes the guidelines will cut down on the number of opiates prescribed and, in turn, reduce the number of people who turn to heroin.
The epidemic has not yet peaked…
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 17
In theory, House Bill 48, now under consideration by Ohio lawmakers, is supposed to make universities and day care centers safer. In fact, it would do the opposite.
The legislation allows someone to bring concealed weapons onto campuses and into day care centers and public spaces in police stations and airport terminals. It shields universities from liability for gun crimes on their campus. If a university bans guns but someone carries a concealed weapon onto campus anyway and gets caught, the penalty would now be barely a slap on the wrist— a minor misdemeanor.
The false narrative of gun rights versus gun control is playing out across the country as mass shootings kill multiple innocent civilians with alarming regularity.
In Ohio’s General Assembly, the debate is currently centered on Lebanon Republican Ron Maag’s HB 48. How can supporters of this “guns everywhere” legislation think it would boost safety? It should be telling that even Ohio’s police chiefs and prosecutors, who are sworn to maintain law and order, are opposed to the measure.
The wrongheaded basic philosophy behind this bill is two-fold: Criminals don’t follow laws, so gun-free zones don’t work, and more guns on campuses, in day care centers and elsewhere means more safety, by arming civilians and effectively deputizing them to fight crime…