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Oklahoma! Healthcare time is now!

November 21, 2013

This Opinion Article was published in the Duncan OK Banner, November 20, 2013.

It is too bad that we have to be reminded of the same arguments which surrounded Social Security and Medicare when those two most popular government-sponsored programs were started. Both were classified as socialistic, communistic, efforts to break the government – and in the case of Medicare – reasons for doctors to terminate their practices and close their doors, none of which came true!

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has had a bumpy startup with a greater volume of customers than anticipated and a Republican-controlled House doing all it can to completely eradicate the PPACA.  The Republicans reported that their latest attempt to damage the PPACA created a “mass exodus of Democrats” to Republicans’ ideology.  The actual number in that “MASS” is small.  In four years, Republicans have been able to gain a grand total of FOUR more Democrats than the total number of Democrats voting against the PPACA on March 10, 2010.

When presenting statistics, Republicans’ failing memories preclude them from acknowledging that only 132 enrollments occurred during the first year of Massachusetts’ state-run health plan (model for today‘s PPACA).  Today, Massachusetts reports 90% participation!

According to a November 14, 2013 article in NewsOK (a cautiously conservative news outlet) on November 1, 2013, 346 Oklahomans had selected a plan from the Federal Marketplace (almost three times the number during Massachusetts’s FIRST YEAR). Additionally, over 6,500 Oklahomans have completed the Marketplace application on healthcare.gov but have not yet decided upon a policy. NewsOK’s article also reported that over 1,400 of those Oklahomans who applied through the Marketplace were eligible for financial assistance with which to purchase health insurance.

Oklahoma Policy Institute reported that 2,412 from that same group were eligible for enrollment in Medicaid (Sooner Care)/CHIP.  Where do these people fit in the lineup of people awaiting access to Oklahoma Sooner Care?  Governor Fallin and the State Legislature MUST ACT NOW to Expand Medicaid for all eligible Oklahomans!

Responding to President Obama’s plan to bring the insurance industry back into line with the PPACA, the Republicans again disrupted implementation.  According to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) – reported by The Center for American Progress – “…it was a ‘targeted strike’ on the law and just one more step on the road to appeal.”  This feeble attempt to nullify the law would put in place an amendment allowing insurees to keep their current policies for one to two years longer and allow insurers to accept new enrollees while retaining the option to cancel policies at any time for any reason.   Those plans could exempt catastrophic illness, include a payment cap on claims one might not be aware of or exempt arbitrary pre-existing conditions which would cancel a policy. 

NOTE:  Policies written – or re-issued – after March 2010 ARE NOT INCLUDED in the “grandfather” clause of the PPACA.   Insurance companies should be held accountable for issuing those policies, knowing they would be worthless January 2014!

Sadly, the successes of PPACA receive very little notice from the media in Oklahoma. To this writer, that is extremely peculiar since the states that have set up State-Run Marketplaces are moving along smoothly.   Are we not worthy of the same considerations?

David Blatt, Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Director, was quoted in the same NewsOK article, “It is going to require a real effort to assure people that things have been fixed. At the same time, the need is there, the demand is there, and we know there are thousands of Oklahomans who are looking to the Exchange to get the affordable coverage they have not had in the past.”

Governor Fallin’s glib remarks about the problems of the Affordable Care Act should remind us to acknowledge the successes of both Social Security and Medicare.  A decade from now, we will take pride in this successful endeavor – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act!

 

  

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