Monday, November 17, 2014

Politico burns Mississippi

A writer from the Kaiser Health News blasted Mississippi's rejection of Obamacare in a "Letter from Mississippi" published in Politico.  Sarah Varney makes some good points but engages in a little bit of advocacy journalism as there is one thing missing from her story: interviews from the other side.  In this case, the other side are people who oppose establishing Obamacare or expanding Medicaid in Mississippi.  Having said that, the article is fairly in-depth in nature and worth reading.  Some excerpts:

The lunch rush at Tom’s on Main in Yazoo City had come to a close, and the waitresses, after clearing away plates of shrimp and cheese grits, seasoned turnip greens and pitchers of sweet tea, were retreating to the counter to cash out and count their tips. Wylene Gary was at the register ringing up the last of the $6.95 lunchtime specials as we chatted about her job, a modest low-paying one of the sort all too common in Mississippi, America’s most down-and-out state, where a full 20 percent of the population doesn’t graduate from high school, 22 percent lives in poverty—and even more than that, a quarter of the state, goes without health care coverage.

Gary didn’t have health insurance either, not that she hadn’t tried. When the Affordable Care Act mandated that Americans buy coverage, she didn’t want to be a lawbreaker: She had gone online to the federal government’s new website, signed up and paid her first monthly premium of $129. But when her new insurance card arrived in the mail, she was flabbergasted.

“It said $6,000 deductible and 40 percent co-pay,” Gary told me, her timid drawl giving way to strident dismay..... Rest of article. Read it.

The first year of the Affordable Care Act was, by almost every measure, an unmitigated disaster in Mississippi. In a state stricken by diabetes, heart disease, obesity and the highest mortality rate in the nation, President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law has barely registered, leaving the country’s poorest and most segregated state trapped in a severe and intractable health care crisis.

“There are wide swaths of Mississippi where the Affordable Care Act is not a reality,” Conner Reeves, who led Obamacare enrollment at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, told me when we met in the state capital of Jackson. Of the nearly 300,000 people who could have gained coverage in Mississippi in the first year of enrollment, just 61,494—some 20 percent—did so. When all was said and done, Mississippi would be the only state in the union where the percentage of uninsured residents has gone up, not down.....


Anonymous said...

KF, I don't think there was " another side" to be interviewed.

What our representatives did was not face reality and harmed those who they were supposed to represent based on political philosophical differences rather than pragmatic decision making.

That's rich from the party that blasted " ivory tower effete intellectuals" !

They should have set up an exchange and then fought it out politically.

We needed and still need rational healthcare reform. Some parts of the ACA are important. Much of it is a mess.

Some critical components , like dealing with pharmaceuticals and getting meaningful insurance competition, weren't done.

We continue to fall behind in nearly every health care stat there is in the world. This is a particular disgrace when we are first in the knowledge and technology to have the best health care system.

What the " other side" was about was weakening and defeating Obama, not about the best interest of our Nation!

It was, at best, Quixotic, and at worst a play for health care special interest money!

Both parties are so stuck in either/or extremism that we can't get a damn thing fixed!

Anonymous said...

8:22, I agree. Well said.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how there's any valid "conservative" objection to a health-insurance exchange, but I would be happy to have that explained to me.

Anonymous said...

Granny always self-congratulates herself.

Anonymous said...

I hope no one is stupid enough to assume people who don't have a job, don't file tax returns and really don't follow any rules are going to buy and pay for ACA insurance when they can go to the emergency room. Not happening.

With MS being the most obese and being on the bottom in almost every statistic (except for generosity, which is a good thing), our biggest problems are not deductibles and co-pays on insurance.

Anonymous said...

Well put, original poster. 11:05 didn't read the article and doesn't comprehend one of the central issue of expanding Medicaid.

Anonymous said...

11:05, I agree. Well said.

Anonymous said...

11:05, I disagree. Poorly said.

Anonymous said...

"people who don't have a job, don't file tax returns and really don't follow any rules are going to buy and pay for ACA insurance"

As 11:33 more gently pointed out, the people you describe would not "pay" for insurance. They would be Medicaid beneficiaries.

As for "really don't follow any rules," that statement tells us more about what rules you don't follow than about these extremely unfortunate people.

Anonymous said...

"As 11:33 more gently pointed out, the people you describe would not "pay" for insurance. They would be Medicaid beneficiaries."

In other words, I would "pay" for their insurance. No thanks, but I would be willing to cough up some money for one-way bus fare to relocate them to somewhere that enjoys supporting deadbeats.

I pay a fortune in premiums and deductibles to make sure my two children get medical care. It's about time everyone took care of themselves and their own.

BTW, a large proportion of these "extremely unfortunate people" are in their situation because of extremely boneheaded lifestyle choices they have made. A quart of whiskey a day is not a healthy diet, as many of us realize.

Anonymous said...

2:37 PM

I bet you are in the middle of the pew every Sunday aren't you.

They are lots of Christians around here...until they get out of church.

Anonymous said...

"make sure my two children get medical care. It's about time everyone took care of themselves and their own."

Ah. So you support the individual mandate that requires those who can afford insurance to buy it.

... Your stereotypes are silly. Some well-off people are drunks, but they have money & family. Some poor people are drunks & have no help. And lots of people work 40+ hours a week & can't support themselves.

Anonymous said...

I don't have insurance because our budget can't afford it. It's $1,200/mo with me on there. Without me on the plan, it's $800. My husband and kids are covered. I'm breaking the law because we can't pay for all five people in our family to have health insurance.

Before Obamacare kicked in, our premium was $700/mo for all five of us.

My conclusion: In order to pick up the tab for some other folks, I can't have health insurance. Aren't subsidies grand?

And yes, that Politico piece was a hit job. When I read it last week I wanted to throttle the writer for not interviewing those of us in the middle class who are getting killed because of the increased rates (and deductibles and copays).

Anonymous said...

Scenario: person doesn't have insurance. They get sick. Really sick. They show up at the emergency room. They are treated. Maybe sugery is required. They get it. Can't pay for it? Still gets done.

Under this scenario, insured person shows up at the same hospital. Has to have surgery. To juggle the cost of scenario stated above he/she pays $100 for a Tylenol, $300 for their apron, and 300% of the cost of their surgery for person listed above so costs can be covered. Guess what happens next? Person #2's premiums go up.

News flash. We already pay for the uninsured.

Obamacare, as written, is a disaster, but it doesn't undo the scenario above. Unless you spread risk to everyone the system is going to vastly distort costs.

Notions of "liberty" aside, the healthy uninsured have to participate in this, or it doesn't work. 100% coverage is required if we are going to guarantee healthcare for everyone- which we currently do.

The GOP can and must address this fundamental flaw through the free market if Obamacare is to be undone. The status quo pre-obamacare is unsustainable.

Anonymous said...

If we had a state healthcare exchange and expanded Medicaid nearly everyone in the state would have some type of coverage. That would stabilize the healthcare systen. Then everyone in the state would have better rates. The reason premiums are so high in this state is because there are hundreds of thousands of people who do not have any insurance. They go to ER and run up a bill and the rest of us pay for it. It is not free care. The hospitals have to pay for their staff, their utilities, their supplies. All of those $3000 ER visits add up, those $1 million hospital stay visits add up, the hospitals pass the costs on to those of us who have insurance and then the insurance companies raise our premiums to cover all those hundreds of thousands who have no insurance. The people who would be added under Medicaid expansion are working people with families. They do not get a subsidy because they do not even make the minimum amount needed. These are the people who work in fast food, retail, etc. who only make minimum wage.

Do you ever wonder if the person serving you food in a restaurant has had their flu shot? Well if they dont have $20 to $30 and no insurance, the answer is probably not.

If you have any doubts how this would work, look at the premium rates for the states that set up state healthcare exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Enter in a zip code and put in your age and family members and compare those rates to what you are paying in Mississippi. You will be surprised.

Not A Lobbyist said...

them people who dont make enough for insurance should get them a job at the big key oar plan in columbus. they should be hiring any day now.

Anonymous said...

Some of you need to spend time in the Delta or work at UMC to understand the mindset that keeps the State St smoking section full of diabetic amputees. It's past time to stop trying to drag these people into modern times while they demand the rest of us pay for their worthless, reckless and worrisome lifestyle.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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