There is no question that — at multiple levels — America is going to continue to feel the economic reverberations of the shameful display of right-wing political brinkmanship that shut down the government this month. But that attempt to derail the Affordable Care Act was hugely unpopular and ultimately unsuccessful. For that we can be grateful.
As we report today, in our area alone nearly one-fifth of the population has been making do without health insurance, likely because they could not find the money to pay for it. This volume of uninsured residents can present a host of problems, not only to the people involved, but to the cities in which they live. Preventive care is the key. If people do not have the money to see doctors on a regular basis who can advise them on lifestyle changes, healthcare resources can so easily become strained. Unchecked illnesses can spread. Catastrophic healthcare issues can send families into bankruptcy, with each such declaration throwing another wrench into the wheels of commerce.
Despite the mighty attempt by the tea party to stop Obamacare from moving forward, at the beginning of this month the new online insurance exchanges were launched — with notable glitches that should have surprised no one, given the size of the nationwide undertaking.
In California, coveredca.com allows consumers to compare and select coverage that best suits them. About 58,000 uninsured people in our state Assembly district can now identify affordable coverage through that site and, because the income threshold for qualifying for Medi-Cal coverage has been raised, about 45,000 individuals in our district will be eligible to join those rolls.
There is no denying that those who are not in financial need will, through their insurance premiums, be subsidizing the poor. Businesses are bracing for higher health plan costs. We get that. But we must understand that this is for the greater good and that we will reap what we sow: Our communities will be healthier and therefore stronger. You just can't put a premium on that.