My, how the universe has changed course

To the Editor:

After the Clinton administrations’ efforts to get a universal health care bill passed back in the 90s, guess what group was next to propose sweeping health care legislation? No, not the Obama administration. It was the Heritage Foundation, the arch-conservative think tank in Washington. In those days, the Heritage Foundation believed that health care for everyone was important, and authored the bill in Massachusetts for then-governor Mitt Romney. When Romney signed it into law in 2006, members of the Heritage Foundation were right there for the signing, alongside liberal Sen. Ted Kennedy.  

That Massachusetts law eventually became the model for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that has been the subject of national debate for the better part of Obama’s term of office.  

Here’s the first twist in the story: It has been the Heritage Foundation that has turned on their own concept and led the fight against the ACA. They have made the wildest claims imaginable about it … that there will be “death panels” to advise people on Medicare how to end their lives … that the ACA will cut Medicare benefits, causing elderly people to die … that there is a secret White House security force that are being taught to use syringes as weapons. Whew.

Unfortunately, the rollout of ACA was an act of falling down stairs, and did a lot to make the ACA look more like an Edsel than a Jeep. But poor business management of the rollout doesn’t make the concept of everyone in the country having affordable health care a bad idea. With it, doctors are more accessible to everyone, regardless of income. Low-income people no longer have to get health care from emergency rooms, care for which they can’t pay. All at once, the how-am-I-going-to-pay-for-medical-care panic is lifted.  

Opponents say it won’t work, but it already is working in our biggest state. That’s the second twist in the story. Jerry Brown, the then-and-once-again governor of California, has latched onto the ACA concept and is using Medi-Cal (the state’s Medicaid program) to enroll low-income Californians. Through this venue, more than 107,000 Californians are already enrolled in the program through November alone — 23 percent of the total U.S. sign-ups.

So, what does this do for us in North Carolina? What help has Gov. Pat McCrory offered Tar Heels to get signed up? Nothing. He wants nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act and has taken the state out of participation in it. So Tar Heels are left to sort their way through the federal website to get this health coverage. So far, only 9,000 had done it through November, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.        

There were those who used to think of Jerry Brown as a quirky sort of guy. One writer even nicknamed him “Governor Moonbeam.” But Jerry Brown has chosen to be a help to the people of his state. By contrast, Pat McCrory has chosen to be an obstructionist for the people of North Carolina.

Rick Bryson

Bryson City

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