Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Affordable Care Act, President Obama, Medicare, Social Security,, Rollout

Bumpy Healthcare Rollout Fuels Critics, Hinders Enrollment
By Mildred Robertson

It is unfortunate. A unique opportunity exists for people who have little or no health insurance coverage in America. That opportunity, however, is being undermined by bad politics (an oxymoron) and a poor implementation plan.

It is unfortunate that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was not properly tested before its rollout on October 1, 2013. That bumpy start gave the naysayers just what they needed to be able to confidently say, “I told you so.” Because of the rough start, many have begun to give credence to the Ted Cruzes and the Sarah Palins of this world who hate all things Obama, and anything that might smack of the government serving the poor. 

Meanwhile, millions continue to forego needed healthcare, or find their way to an emergency room to service healthcare needs that could have been prevented, or treated at a much lower cost. And don’t misunderstand who is paying for the high cost of treating the uninsured. It is you and me. 

President Obama will bear the blame if this social experiment fails. It is not blame that he should necessarily shoulder alone, since he has had to battle an opposing party that has attempted at every juncture to derail universal healthcare for America’s most vulnerable. The plan we have is not the plan he wanted. But it was what he could get from a cantankerous Republican-led House and a skittish Democratic Senate.

The GOP attack has been constant and consistent, while offering no alternative to a problem that must be solved. They have created a pervasive fear in the American public that implementation of the Affordable Care Act will result in the collapse of the healthcare system and will create a drag on the economy.  Even staunch universal healthcare supporters have balked in recent days as the news about the rollout continues to be shaky at best.

The fact of the matter is that was never intended to meet the needs of citizens in all 50 states. Originally, that was a task intended for each individual state, with assistance from the government. Instead, the federal government had to step in to fill the breach when Republican led states refused to set up healthcare exchanges and enroll Medicaid recipients.

Data indicates that those states running their own healthcare exchanges, as intended, are doing relatively well. It is the 20 or so that did not that have helped to swell the numbers attempting to access the website and thereby exacerbate issues associated with the rollout.  

Let us not be naïve. No endeavor of this magnitude could be expected to be without glitches. The implementation of both Medicare and Social Security were no less controversial than the ACA. Those social programs were ultimately successful and should serve to calm the fears of supporters, who admittedly expected better planning and a more precise anticipation of possible difficulties with implementation.

Unfortunately, many have already ventured on the site, and left with a sour taste in their mouth. It may be difficult to get them to give it another try.

Signing up is not necessarily simple, and for those states who offer their citizens no assistance, each must do his or her own research to determine how best to navigate the system, or to find the resources necessary to help them log on and make the best choice for their families. Many who most need the service are the least well equipped to navigate the process.

It is important that all who believe in the Affordable Care Act and support its implementation talk to family, friends and neighbors and encourage them to log on and sign up. It remains to be seen whether ACA is the best legislation for achieving universal healthcare, but it is the best that we could get in this contentious environment.

We should applaud President Obama for fighting for the right of every American citizen to have access to quality healthcare.  We should work diligently to remove the obstacles that hinder the ACA from meeting its full potential. Then we must work to refine it, so that it can provide the health and economic benefits that are possible if we can bring down the cost of healthcare and increase its availability to all Americans.

If you are interested in signing up for ACA but are not sure where to start, there are a number of resources available, even in states that do not offer a healthcare exchange.  To help you learn to navigate the process, go to: or call 1-800-318-2596.

Navigators, who are individuals trained to answer your questions about ACA, can also be found by contacting local churches, nonprofit organizations or health clinics.