Spotlight Exclusives

Poverty in the Health Care Debate

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An article in Wednesday’s New York Times reminded us just how much is at stake in the current health care debate in Washington. The story, titled “With a Front Row View of Poverty, She Needed Help,” is not a typical New York Times story. It۪s the kind they run especially around this time of yearabout how charity helps what the newspaper calls “The Neediest Cases.” In this case, the mother needed surgery and had used up her sick days. As the mother points out in the story, many Americans are one paycheck away from homelessness. She could rightly have said one illness away from poverty. That realization is important to keep in mind as the debate over health care in this country heats up yet again. The actual bill is getting attacks from the left, center and right. That can be pretty confusing, making it difficult to know what a good bill should look like.

We suggest one useful measure: How well does the legislation help the low income among us? There are, to be sure, other considerations. And we aren’t naive enough to believe politics doesn’t matter. But as the mother in the Times story experienced, keeping an eye on those struggling to make it and how policies can give them and their children a better chance is as important a test as any to apply to legislation.

This holiday season, we encourage all OOTS readers to give in the holiday spirit. And we encourage all our policymaking friends to legislate as if low-income people’s lives depended on it. Because they do.

Posted by Mike


Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn۪t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and its impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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