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obamacare pie chartThis is by way of good news. It’s also a counter-narrative to all the horror stories about the Affordable Care Act.Because once a journalist, always a journalist, I guess. And someone needs to put some honest facts into the conversation, so far dominated by scarey demagogues.

To the left is Jonathan Gruber’s pie graph about the Affordable Care Act’s impact. Jonathan Gruber is the MIT economist behind the architecture for both Romneycare in Massachusetts, and the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare (sometimes even affectionately). Gruber may be the one person who really understands the ACA inside & out.

If you look, you’ll notice something that will probably surprise you: only 3% of Americans are potential ‘losers’ under the ACA. Meaning, only about 3% of Americans will have to buy a more expensive (but also higher coverage) insurance plan.

I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but please bear with me. You’ll also see that 80% of Americans are pretty much unaffected by the ACA. They get to keep their current plan. Another 3% may have to buy a new plan, but it won’t be much different — in price or coverage — from their current plan. Surprised? You certainly don’t hear this much, do you?

Now here’s the real kicker: 15% of Americans who are currently uninsured will NOW be able to buy insurance coverage. Children with birth defects — pre-existing conditions — men & women with asthma, people whose insurance has lapsed, college-age children who are going to class instead of working a FT job with benefits… All of these (and many more) now will have affordable medical care.health care reform

Why aren’t we hearing THESE stories?? Where’s the coverage of Debbie Basham or Marlane Cygler, both of whom now have health insurance? What about Richard Streeter, who may die because he couldn’t afford health care until the ACA? Or the anguish of his doctor, who had to tell this man who’d put off a colonscopy (because he couldn’t afford it) that he has advanced colon cancer? You have to WANT to find those stories: media isn’t making them easy to locate.

Digression: I was a journalist at a top-50 daily newspaper for 5 years. During that time I did everything from take copy hither & fro, to obits, to city desk, to various beats. I even won a few state prizes, and attended a couple of national conferences.

Which is by way of saying that I actually know a little about journalism. 🙂 And a little more about writing. But I do NOT know why we only hear about the 3% of Americans who are having problems with the ACA.

In Oklahoma, that figure may be higher. But it’s not the fault of either Obama or the ACA. Lay the culpability at the door of those responsible: the state ‘leaders’ who refused the Medicaid expansion. A recent Tulsa World article noted that the state’s rural hospitals are in rural hospitalsserious peril. You have to wade through the article to paragraph #38 or so before you find out what would be the biggest help to these imperiled hospitals: Rick Snyder, vice president of finance and information services for the Oklahoma Hospital Association, said the biggest single thing Oklahoma could do to help rural hospitals would be to expand Medicaid.

Why isn’t THAT bigger news? Surely a VP of the OHA is a credible source?

A follow-up editorial to last week’s article notes that more than 140,000 Oklahomans will remain uninsured because OK Governor Mary Fallin refused the federal Medicaid expansion. Oklahoma can’t afford the 10% or LESS costs that don’t even BEGIN until three years from now. But we can afford to cut taxes for the wealthy — something that has no impact whatsoever on the thousands of Oklahomans uninsured. Many of whom are women, children, the elderly. The most vulnerable of our citizens. Who will be unable to pay their bills when — not if — they require any medical care. Why isn’t THAT news??

Not to mention horror stories, like ‘the doctor shortage is because of the ACA!’ No. As Dr. Reid Blackwelder, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, says, “the Affordable Care Act didn’t create this crisis.” Or the people who complain they now are forced to buy insurance. Well, yeah. So that the rest of us don’t finance your inability to pay your medical bills. Remember the rural hospitals going broke? You’re the reason.

Not to mention insurance companies sending out scam notices that warn clients their coverage will lapse. Where’s the coverage of this kind of hysteria-inducing fraud? Or conservative columnists making up stories just to scare people.

Here’s a quick & easy guide to all the GOOD that comes from the ACA (courtesy of my husband, the amazing Internet researcher). And don’t ask me why this information isn’t more readily available. Again, you apparently have to WANT to find it. But it IS out there, and you should go look it up yourself, just to be sure.

The ACA: Affordable Care Act

There used to be a term for the kind of journalism that didn’t bother with facts. That cared only about sold papers/ sound bites/ commercial time. Yellow… Yellow journalism. Meaning it had no real grounding in facts. It’s back in vogue, I guess. I wish people would do the research the media elides. I wish folks would take the time to find reliable — credible — sources.  I wish they wouldn’t fall for cheap sensationalism. But after years of teaching research to incoming freshmen, I’m not counting on it. 🙂  Still, we can dream…

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