We are now undergoing the latest attack against the daunting national effort to insure health care insurance for millions of Americans who have none and who will pay for it out of their own pocket (unless they are too poor).
9.2 Million Americans participate in a single payer system called Tricare that provides health care for service men and women. Medicare, another single payer system, provides for anyone over 65. Others have employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, and there is small-group and individual insurance coverage. But many millions more have no insurance at all. There are those too poor to afford insurance or health care; the emergency room is their sole source of health care.
Still we have those who decry the need for an Affordable Care Act – for “Obamacare.”
True, the roll out of a public web site to apply for this health insurance was a disaster.
But the nay-sayers have made things worse, as the Southern States (and other red states) sat on their hands, refusing to set up state health exchanges, and rejecting millions in federal tax money already paid to the government that could insure many more poor Americans under the Medicaid program.
After Social Security became law in 1935, before the first checks issued in 1940, there was no record of an individual’s lifetime earnings, also confusion over identical names, yet 26 million people had to be registered in less than a year, and there were no computers. The Republican Candidate for President, Alf Landon, in 1936, called Social Security a “cruel hoax.” Nay-saying Landon was proven dead wrong.
When Medicare rolled out in 1966, 700,000 seniors who were eligible refused to sign up because they thought it would cost them their Social Security payments. That misinformation was soon corrected.
When Medicare Part D, President Bush’s prescription drug program rolled out, the web faltered, but the kinks were ironed out, and 16 million persons enrolled.
This Affordable Care program covers pre-existing conditions, preventive services (including vaccines and screenings for breast and colon cancer), contraceptives, workers without employer or public insurance coverage, outlaws annual or lifetime limits on expenditures, expands Medicaid coverage (outside those states that balked at helping the poor), closes the Medicare “donut hole,” covers those in approved clinical trials, as well as young men and women up to 26 years of age.
After the web site choked, more than a month ago, we achieved a 90% success rate (up from 43%), and a capacity to handle 800,000 web site visits a day. Only a few days ago, 29,000 people signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov over two days – a Sunday and Monday.
There are enrollment errors that have to be corrected before January but now there’s a growing inventory of Affordable Care success stories (see acasuccessstories.tumblr.com) – individuals getting better coverage, lower deductibles, lower maxes out of pocket, and lower premiums as compared with those programs that they had (mostly) with their employers.
An unforeseen benefit, even in those Southern States that refused to expand Medicaid, are those 91,000 applicants who have discovered that they were eligible for Medicaid, under the existing standards, but didn’t know it.
The naysayers persist, however, like a bad fever, focused on the unworthy legacy of denying health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
Our nation’s past progress required that we as a people overcome toxic influences, the enemies of change, quite like the current crop of self-centered know-and-do-nothings. We can’t move forward, however, in silence. We must call out the malcontents, loud and clear, for their misplaced antipathy to progress, health care, and the poor.