The following editorial appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, May 10:

It’s “let’s focus on health care” week in Washington, and, as most Americans know, attempts can’t come soon enough to try to chip away at this crisis. About 45 million Americans still lack affordable insurance, and the problem often boils down to whether their employers are able to pay the costs.

One way to soften the blow for employers – and, thus, their workers – is to allow small businesses or professional groups to form insurance pools. When small operations join together with others in a similar situation, this networking allows the group to flex its muscles and gain an affordable, common package.

The Senate is debating legislation this week that would help small businesses achieve that goal; President Bush has been a strong supporter of such networking. And we hope the variation of it proposed by GOP Sen. Mike Enzi and Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson passes quickly, given that workers’ security – including security that their children are covered – is at stake.

Critics of the measure argue that this type of operation could weaken some serious work being done on the state level. True, new federal laws would supersede some state laws that guarantee coverage for a range of services.

But let’s be honest: We’ve got to run that risk to get more Americans insured. In a perfect world, gold-plated plans would roll off the insurance line for us all. But they don’t, and it would be foolish to wait for enough to arrive to cover everyone.

We need to think practically and this bill represents just that type of thinking.

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