Roundup: Editorial opinions from other papers
The migrant cluster is dispersed; problem remains
The Europeans — in particular, this time, the French and British — continue to labor mightily with the major problem that migrants from the wars of the Middle East and of poverty in Africa continue to pose for them.
A million came in 2015.
Some 6,000 of them clustered in Calais, a city in France on the English Channel, close to the United Kingdom. Their goal was not to settle in France, but to be as well-positioned as possible to seek asylum in the U.K. This they wanted for a variety of reasons. Some of them speak English. The U.K.’s job market is considered relatively welcoming. The benefits it offers immigrants are attractive. The British are not as xenophobic as some of the Continental Europeans, even though anti-immigrant sentiment was one of the driving forces in the British vote in June to leave the European Union.
Nonetheless, the large group of potential immigrants gathered at Calais was a problem for both the French and the British. The area of Calais where they gathered picked up the unfortunate name, “The Jungle.” The British and French, working with the humanitarian relief organizations, are now in the process of resolving the problem, to their credit. The British have accepted to admit hundreds of unaccompanied minors — that is to say, children who have fled without their parents. The French have agreed to take the rest, at least for consideration to be granted asylum status.
The French are in the process of busing this much larger group from Calais to more than 80 points across France, in order not to burden any one French city or region with a disproportionate number of migrants, a wise policy in terms of integrating them successfully.
The French and British governments are to be commended for their relatively quick, reasonably well-organized approach to the migrant problem. The American government’s response has been less inspiring — slower, and less generous in the number of migrants Washington has agreed to take. The United States has taken this dilatory approach in the name of security, in spite of the fact that the wars driving the migration are in no small part products of American military intervention, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 26
Growing pains for Obamacare
Starting next week, many Americans who buy individual health insurance policies will see big increases in premiums — 25 percent on average for those who shop at the federally operated exchanges established by the 2010 Affordable Care Act. That’s particularly bad news for those whose incomes aren’t low enough to qualify for large premium subsidies.
The price hikes have renewed calls by Republicans to repeal the law, better known as Obamacare. And there’s no denying that the increases are going to be painful for many working-class Americans who don’t get coverage through their employers.
One key driver of the premium hikes is the disproportionately high cost of covering the people who’ve signed up for Obamacare. Although the law requires virtually all adult Americans to obtain insurance, too many younger, healthier people have either flouted the mandate or chosen to buy the less comprehensive policies that the Obama administration unwisely allowed to remain on the market.
But some states will see much smaller average premium increases, or even decreases, because they’ve found ways to avoid that trap. For example, California (where the average increase will be 13 percent) barred insurers participating in its exchange from offering policies that effectively pulled healthier consumers into a separate risk pool.
Those states have traced a path to sustainability that the rest of the country should follow. And lawmakers can help by toughening the mandate to obtain insurance, eliminating loopholes that enable people to carry coverage only when they need treatment, and giving those who buy unsubsidized policies on the exchanges the same tax breaks as people who buy insurance through their employers.
Meanwhile, consumers need to be more willing than they have been in the past to change insurance plans — and doctors — to reduce their monthly costs. According to the Obama administration, 76 percent of the people enrolled in Obamacare could wind up paying lower premiums next year if they switched from their current plan to the lowest cost one in that level of coverage.
Insurers will still have incentives to attract healthier customers, but lawmakers can discourage that sort of cherry-picking — which pales in comparison to what insurers did before Obamacare — by improving the mechanisms in the law to spread costs and risks among insurers.
Policymakers also need to tackle the forces driving up the cost of care, such as rising drug prices and inefficient treatments. That’s a challenge, but Obamacare will help by bringing more people into insurance coverage where their care can be managed. The answer to the latest round of premium hikes isn’t to give up on the law’s vital insurance reforms — it’s to make them work better.
Los Angeles Times, Oct. 26