A good job

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono’s bout with kidney cancer this year has left her more determined than ever to protect Americans’ access to quality health care.

“I firmly believe health care is a right, not a privilege,” Hawaii’s junior senator told us in an interview Thursday afternoon. With that in mind, she vowed to fight this fall to shore up the insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act and even to promote a possible public option.

Hirono warned that there may be another attempt by President Donald Trump to force Congress to repeal the ACA without a replacement.

“That would be a disaster for millions of Americans,” the senator said.

She expressed confidence that Chairman Lamar Alexander and ranking member Patty Murray of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are dedicated to shoring up the health care system. Alexander and Murray announced earlier this month that their committee will hold hearings in September with the goal of stabilizing the ACA’s marketplaces.

Included in the Senate committee’s goals are plans to ensure the government continues cost-sharing payments to insurers to offset losses from covering high-risk patients.

In the wide-ranging interview, Hirono emphasized that diplomacy is the key to toning down the crisis with North Korea. The senator said she hopes and believes there are “back channel” discussions taking place.

That said, though, she also feels the United States has to continue building and strengthening its anti-ballistic missile capabilities.

The senator believes Congress should be given a “clean” bill to increase the debt limit ceiling — one without any ties to it. Tuesday, Trump said he would oppose any bill that didn’t have funds for his wall along the Mexican border in it.

Hirono is running for re-election in 2018. In our view, she is doing a very fine job in the U.S. Senate.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.

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