Ours is the only industrialized nation that doesn't insure all its people, yet our health care costs are the world's highest by far.
That tells us there will be no cure for runaway costs without universal coverage.
Rep. Ben Chandler apparently didn't buy that line of reasoning. He was one of 39 Democrats who joined all but one Republican in voting no on the reform plan that emerged from the House after a daylong debate Saturday.
Chandler cited the cost and his concerns about the bill's effects on rural hospitals and small businesses as reasons for his vote while also saying "there is no doubt that our health care system is broken."
Despite Chandler's reservations, the House moved this country closer than ever to fixing its broken health care system.
The Senate should get busy and finish the job.
Opponents are insisting that Congress and President Barack Obama should forget health care for now and put all their focus on creating jobs as national unemployment tops 10 percent for the first time since the early 1980s.
But reining in the cost of health care is a way to create jobs. The relentless increase in insurance premiums is a drag on U.S. businesses by draining away profits that could go into new job-creating investments.
Likewise, the high cost and unreliability of insurance, especially on the individual market, stifles entrepreneurial activity and discourages people from starting new businesses because they're afraid they won't be able to insure themselves and their families if they leave the security of an employer-sponsored group plan.
The number of uninsured Kentuckians has grown to almost three-quarters of a million people while employer-based coverage is decreasing.
In 2001, 71.3 percent of Kentuckians had insurance coverage through their jobs; it was down last year to 63.5 percent. Nineteen percent of working Kentuckians lacked insurance in 2008, an appalling reality.
What the House passed has the support of the American Medical Association and the AARP. It's not radical or extreme and in a less partisan age would have gotten Republican votes.
The insurance reforms in the House plan, such as requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions, are long overdue and were offered by congressional Republicans in the 1990s as an alternative to the Clinton health care plan.
Americans recognize that health care is a big problem but understandably mistrust anything coming out of Washington. That distrust was fueled by crazy rumors promoted even by some prominent Republicans.
We're not sure what Chandler hoped to accomplish politically with his vote. He endorsed Obama and voted for a cap-and-trade allowance system to reduce the heat-trapping gases that are causing climate change. The energy vote, opposed by coal interests, was probably more politically risky than this one. And he's not going to get right with the tea baggers no matter what he does.
This is no time to let the perfect become the enemy of the good. We would have rather seen Chandler stand up for positive change rather than hunker down with Kentucky's House Republicans who reflexively vote against anything Obama wants, even Rep. Hal Rogers whose constituents have the lowest life expectancy of residents of any congressional district.
Hats off to Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville, the lone Kentuckian who put his people's interests first.