To the editor, News Times, Sept. 8, 2015
by Jerry J Robbins MD, Newport
Health care problems were a big issue during the 2008 Presidential campaign. Too many people had no health insurance either because they could not afford it, or were excluded from buying it due to pre-existing conditions. Many who had insurance could not afford the deductibles and co-pays, and many of the folks in this situation were forced into bankruptcy.
Some people lost their insurance when they lost their jobs in the economic chaos of 2009, and some people with no health insurance died because of conditions that went undiagnosed or untreated.
Then came President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. Among the major changes/improvements implemented in this Act were elimination of “pre-existing conditions”, and expansion of Medicaid enrollment. Currently 17 million more people now have health insurance, including about nine million new Medicaid enrollees; these are good outcomes. However, buying insurance “through the portal” is still a cumbersome activity. Too many times people are faced with the difficult choice between the options of low premium/high deductible versus high premium/low deductible. For those who have health insurance as a benefit of employment, many are only offered the former scenario without any choice. While the ACA has alleviated some problems, we still live within a system that can only survive if it is profitable; one that perpetuates inequities in health care delivery.
On Friday, September 18, 2015 there will be a one night only presentation at the Newport Performing Arts Center of Michael Milligan’s play, Mercy Killers. Despite the name, this is an emotional love story that portrays the problems with living under our profit-driven health care system. Please buy your ticket at www.coastarts.org to be “touched” by this one-hour play, and then stay to be part of the “solution” discussion to follow the play. I believe that health care will once again be a significant issue in the presidential campaign next year.