Health coverage in 6 places named Denver (column)
Ninety-four percent of the residents of Denver, Colorado, have health coverage. By contrast, if state averages apply, only 76 percent of those in Denver City, Texas, do.
Do you live in Denver, Florida, east of Gainesville? Based on the state average, you have a 1-in-5 chance of having no health coverage. Good luck to you.
The same generally applies if you live in Denver, Oklahoma, just south of Norman — as well as Denver, Arkansas, and Denver, South Carolina, wherever and whatever they may be.
No, these deficiencies can’t be blamed on the Affordable Care Act. They can be blamed on states that have refused to expand Medicaid, and refused billions of federal matching funds, under the act.
Because Colorado expanded Medicaid, and because it aggressively promoted its state health insurance exchange, connectforhealthco.gov, Denver has nearly hit a goal that health-care planners had set for way off in the distance of 2020: 95 percent health coverage.
It’s true that Denver’s uninsured rate is better than Colorado’s as a whole, which is approximately 9 percent. Urban areas with more primary-care options have higher rates of the insured. That means the picture likely is worse in Denver City, Texas, and those three other red-state Denvers than in their states as a whole. Yes: even worse.
Those situations would be bleaker still without the federal exchanges through healthcare.gov and subsidies set up under the Affordable Care Act in states that refused to set them up themselves. Those exchanges would vanish if the Supreme Court were to rule for ACA opponents in the pivotal King v. Burwell case, now awaiting a ruling.
It should be hard to imagine anyone would be rooting for the courts to cast 1.4 million Americans out into the street, figuratively, when it comes to the security of health coverage. The suit and the politics behind it leave nothing to the imagination.
The two states that have the most to lose, in fact, are Florida and Texas, which have the most sign-ups under the federally established exchanges that the court could disallow. So root, root, root against “Obamacare,” and see all the chips fall around you.
Say what you will about this law, and it’s all been said, but the facts are that it has changed the American landscape for the better. It has cut the nation’s rate of uninsured from 20.3 percent to 13.2 percent, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS says 14 million Americans have gained health coverage since the exchanges opened in the fall of 2013. Even if those numbers are inflated, as some critics assert — even if it’s more like 10 million — well, that’s 10 million.
Back when this was all new, and the federal website was having problems, and many insurers discontinued policies (with the exchanges availing backup policies), I wrote that one crucial aspect of the Affordable Care Act was that it had changed the discussion in this country. We were talking about something — health care — that demanded attention.
Indicative of this is the fact that the do-nothings of the GOP in Congress now think government should — what? — do something to address this national need, even as they say the ACA isn’t the answer. The fact is, however, that the Republican alternative promoted by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Tom Coburn would not cover nearly as many Americans. At the same time, it would disrupt the coverage now serving millions.
GOP front-runner-to-be Jeb Bush, who calls the ACA a “monstrosity,” offers an alternative that would cover catastrophic care but not preventive care. Say what? If health coverage doesn’t help keep people healthier, what’s the point?
No matter where you live in this land, things are better because of the Affordable Care Act. Overturning it would be catastrophic.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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