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VOL. 7 | NO. 14 | Saturday, March 29, 2014

Editorial: Government Must Address Coverage Gap

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Our national discussion of the Affordable Care Act continues to say so much about more than the issue of affordable health care.

It continues to be the most profound statement about what passes for political discourse and the decision-making process our elected officials have created for issues that are of crucial importance to citizens.

And increasingly, those political machinations have become something those outside government try to minimize their contact with when they have to deal with government at some level.

The Affordable Care Act and its effects, as well as the reactions to, it force sustained contact for the most vital of services in which cost remains an overriding concern. The concern isn’t that the services will be available. The concern remains whether we can afford those services vital to our health and that concern remains outsized and overpowering.

The Affordable Care Act, at least for now, has not changed that enough.

With projections and forecasts of a possible Republican majority in the U.S. Senate at the end of this year, those concerns will be heightened with the idea that there will be new attempts to repeal the act.

The Affordable Care Act should not become a trophy for a new majority in the Senate.

We say that not because the act and its onerous provisions are perfect. They are far from it and much work is required on its provisions.

The act is a basis from which to start.

Enough of it is in place to profoundly affect the lives of millions of Americans. For that reason, the ongoing debate that will likely continue ad nauseum should at least take a back seat to continuing changes that address the reality of the Affordable Care Act.

Relying on Washington for reality is always dangerous. But there are changes we need that only the government process can provide. We need another option in an act that is more than 25,000 pages long and 10 feet high.

There should be some provisions for those states that for whatever reason have opted out of the Medicaid expansion, like Tennessee, so far.

The political reality is that in the rare event Gov. Bill Haslam makes a deal with the Department of Health and Human Services, it will never, ever get approval from the Tennessee legislature.

As our cover story points out, people who fall just below the poverty line cannot get subsidies in the Affordable Care Act to pay for an insurance plan under the act because they were going to be covered in a Medicaid expansion – an expansion that isn’t happening in Tennessee. The expansion is an option for states that the act did not and still does not anticipate a state rejecting.

Politically the reasons for that rejection may never be completely resolved. Social Security and Medicare are still being debated.

What is needed is a way forward for those who need more than a debate.

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