Why ALL States Need Obamacare - NOW!


My State Needs Obamacare. Now.

Published: September 26, 2013 
FRANKFORT, Ky. — SUNDAY morning news programs identify Kentucky as the red state with two high-profile Republican senators who claim their rhetoric represents an electorate that gave President Obama only about a third of its presidential vote in 2012.
So why then is Kentucky — more quickly than almost any other state — moving to implement the Affordable Care Act?
Because there’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of national politics and the outlook of governors whose job it is to help beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and create a balanced budget.
It’s no coincidence that numerous governors — not just Democrats like me but also Republicans like Jan Brewer of Arizona, John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan — see the Affordable Care Act not as a referendum on President Obama but as a tool for historic change.
That is especially true in Kentucky, a state where residents’ collective health has long been horrendous. The state ranks among the worst, if not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking, cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart disease and diabetes.
We’re making progress, but incremental improvements are not enough. We need big solutions with the potential for transformational change.
The Affordable Care Act is one of those solutions.
For the first time, we will make affordable health insurance available to every single citizen in the state. Right now, 640,000 people in Kentucky are uninsured. That’s almost one in six Kentuckians.
Lack of health coverage puts their health and financial security at risk.
They roll the dice and pray they don’t get sick. They choose between food and medicine. They ignore checkups that would catch serious conditions early. They put off doctor’s appointments, hoping a condition turns out to be nothing. And they live knowing that bankruptcy is just one bad diagnosis away.
Furthermore, their children go long periods without checkups that focus on immunizations, preventive care and vision and hearing tests. If they have diabetes, asthma or infected gums, their conditions remain untreated and unchecked.
For Kentucky as a whole, the negative impact is similar but larger — jacked-up costs, decreased worker productivity, lower quality of life, depressed school attendance and a poor image.
The Affordable Care Act will address these weaknesses.
Some 308,000 of Kentucky’s uninsured — mostly the working poor — will be covered when we increase Medicaid eligibility guidelines to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville concluded that expanding Medicaid would inject $15.6 billion into Kentucky’s economy over the next eight years, create almost 17,000 new jobs, have an $802.4 million positive budget impact (by transferring certain expenditures from the state to the federal government, among other things), protect hospitals from cuts in indigent care funding and shield businesses from up to $48 million in annual penalties.
In short, we couldn’t afford not to do it.
The other 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians will be able to access affordable coverage — most with a discount — through the Health Benefit Exchange, the online insurance marketplace we named Kynect: Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection.
Kentucky is the only Southern state both expanding Medicaid and operating a state-based exchange, and we remain on target to meet the Oct. 1 deadline to open Kynect with the support of a call center that is providing some 100 jobs. Having been the first state-based exchange to complete the readiness review with the United States Department of Health and Human Services, we hope to become the first one to be certified.
Frankly, we can’t implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough.
As for naysayers, I’m offended by their partisan gamesmanship, as they continue to pour time, money and energy into overturning or defunding the Affordable Care Act. It’s shameful that these critics haven’t invested that same level of energy into trying to improve the health of our citizens.
They insist that the Affordable Care Act will never work — when in fact a similar approach put into effect in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then the governor, is working.
So, to those more worried about political power than Kentucky’s families, I say, “Get over it.”
The Affordable Care Act was approved by Congress and sanctioned by the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land.
Get over it ... and get out of the way so I can help my people. Here in Kentucky, we cannot afford to waste another day or another life.
Steve Beshear, a Democrat, is the governor of Kentucky.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on September 27, 2013, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: My State Needs Obamacare. Now..

TMI: ROAD TRIP suggested by Sean

1. Pilot or navigator?  I can do either, but I have always preferred to drive.  However, I am content to be navigator or just passenger when my sons drive, because I feel safe and secure with them.  These days, I rely on "Tom" as my navigator.  He does quite well unless I forget to update his information with the computer.

2. Were you ever able to read a map?  I love maps and keep them handy by all of my favorite chairs and my desk.  I find a reason to consult them almost daily.  Now I often consult Google Earth for even more information.
North Carolina.
3. Can you sleep or read in a car?  I can sleep if I am really tired and can trust the driver (see #1 above).  No way can I read though because I easily get car sick.  When I was a kid, I could not even ride in the back seat without getting car sick.  Oddly enough, I can read without a problem when flying.

4. Driving in the snow is_________? Was fun years ago if there were no other cars near by.  Now I am too old to have fun in the snow.  Driving on ice, however, was always terrifying.

5. Music, talk or audio books? NO radio talk programs, but I do like having conversations with my passengers.  If I am alone, I like to listen to music, often CDs when I can't get a decent radio station.  Never have listened to audio books, but I've never  spent enough time commuting to listen to them.

6. Pack a snack or road kill?  Never do I pack a snack, although I make sure I have something to drink even if it is only water.  By road kill, I assume you mean drive-throughs and fast food and yes, I am ready, especially at a Subway.

7. Direct or scenic route?  On long trips, I take the direct route to get there in a reasonable time frame.  However, I love to take scenic trips of the back country of my home state, North Carolina.  And (#6) I might even stop at an unknown "Mom and Pop" restaurant if the parking lot is full.

8. Car games? Only when I was a child.  Counted many kinds of animals and had to bury them every time we passed a graveyard, and thus start over.

9. Can you fix a flat?  Well, I have "changed" many a flat tire, but not "fixed" them.  I would take them to be "fixed" while using the spare.  The last time I changed a flat was on my Volvo on my farm road. Forgetting what my mission was for that trip, I drove straight to the tire store, and bought a set of new Michelins, because I had already changed too many of the original "roadie" tires that came on the vehicle.

10. Have you ever been or picked up a hitchhiker? Never have I done either.  My mother preached and preached that lesson into my head when I was a teenager.