Lately there has been increasing media focus on the website glitches associated with the federal rollout of the Affordable Care Act. But notwithstanding Republican governors’ intransigence in implementing the new law, it would be enlightening to point out the many successes so far. Indeed, states such as Washington, Oregon, California, New York, Rhode Island and Kentucky all report predominately glitch-free roll outs.
In Kentucky, Gov. Steve Beshear has embraced a statewide health exchange, Kynect. In the first day and a half Kynect processed more than 10,000 applications. Further, so-called “Kynectors” were contracted to educate the public about the various health plans available. This is hard evidence that an ounce of cooperation can reap a pound of results.
Yet, since Obamacare’s roll-out, there have been no shortage of detractors on the right. It is akin to a religious fervor. Right now, 36 states, mostly Republican-controlled, have opted to let the federal government run the exchanges; and not surprisingly, this has put an overwrought burden on the rollout.
A case in point is the scorched-earth health care policy of Texas, which boasts the largest number of uninsured in the nation. Texas has refused to expand Medicaid, as have Tennessee lawmakers.
By refusing federal funding which pays for virtually all Medicaid expansion for the first three years, Tennessee has short-changed thousands of its low-wage citizens. So what, you may ask, is going on in the state office? Is ideology trumping reason? My message to those who might qualify for expanded Medicaid is this: “Sorry, you can’t get treatment — Nashville doesn’t like Obama.”
So what in the world is going on? Surely, loving Obama should not be the prerequisite for doing the right thing. I mean here you have Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the self-appointed assassin of Obamacare, claiming to be a man of the people. Let me point out again: Texas has the highest number of uninsured.
A Texas cancer patient whose health insurance policy has just been canceled might ask: “What has the tea party done for me lately?”
Unfortunately for the GOP — and Tennessee — hostility toward Obamacare is considered smart politics.
Recently, I talked with an uninsured waitress who works at a small restaurant and before could not get affordable insurance. She told me how thrilled she was at completing her application online. She awaits the Jan. 1 coverage start date.
As a retired state employee of 25 years, I was fortunate to have good health insurance, and now I am fortunate to have Medicare. But my grandfather used to tell me how Republicans fought tooth and nail to forestall the implementation of Social Security, just as they do now with Obamacare. As happy as I am now to be able to go to a doctor when I need to, I am at the same time deeply saddened by those opposing health care for all. I am reminded of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Mike C. Bodine is a retired state employee and Vietnam veteran living in East Ridge.
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