Kicking & Screaming

Obamacare obstruction, Tennessee-style:

Some states are going further, passing measures to make it difficult for people to enroll. The health-care-reform act enables local health centers and other organizations to provide “navigators” to help those who have difficulties enrolling, because they are ill, or disabled, or simply overwhelmed by the choices. Medicare has a virtually identical program to help senior citizens sort through their coverage options. No one has had a problem with Medicare navigators. But more than a dozen states have passed measures subjecting health-exchange navigators to strict requirements: licensing exams, heavy licensing fees, insurance bonds. Florida has attempted to ban them from county health departments, where large numbers of uninsured people go for care. Tennessee recently adopted an emergency rule declaring that anyone who could be described as an “enrollment assister” must undergo a criminal background check, fingerprinting, and twelve hours of course work. The hurdles would hamper hospital financial counsellors in the state—and, by some interpretations, ordinary good Samaritans—from simply helping someone get insurance.

This has prompted some folks to ask if it’s easier to get a handgun-carry permit in Tennessee than to help a poor person get health insurance. It appears the answer to that question is, yes. This defies logic and common sense, not to mention human decency, but it’s also par for the course where Southern states are concerned:

This kind of obstructionism has been seen before. After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, Virginia shut down schools in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Warren County rather than accept black children in white schools. When the courts forced the schools to open, the governor followed a number of other Southern states in instituting hurdles such as “pupil placement” reviews, “freedom of choice” plans that provided nothing of the sort, and incessant legal delays. While in some states meaningful progress occurred rapidly, in others it took many years.

It’s beyond tiresome that we have to keep replaying these same movies, that we’re constantly revisiting this same script. The end result will be the same as it’s always been: Southern States and their honorary cousins to the West (hello, Utah!) will be dragged kicking and screaming into that bright future where everyone has access to health insurance. Yes, it will happen eventually. In the meantime, all they’re doing is prolonging the misery and suffering of thousands.

Here’s what they’re fighting:

Still, state by state, a new norm is coming into being: if you’re a freelancer, or between jobs, or want to start your own business but have a family member with a serious health issue, or if you become injured or ill, you are entitled to basic protection.

That’s it in a nutshell. Health insurance will no longer be a point of fear or worry. No more will there be the “I can’t because I could lose my health insurance” excuse.

And as I wrote last week, we’ve been heading in this direction for decades, especially here in the anti-union, “right to work” South. This is from 2010, but it shows how the American labor market has been transformed:

Research by The Human Capital Institute indicates that one-third of the U.S. work force is now composed of freelancers, also known as contract workers. And the institute says the pool of these workers, who often are part-time, is growing at more than twice the rate of the full-time work force.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, freelancers were one of the few groups that continued to see job growth throughout the recession and the slow economic recovery. The bureau adds that this trend has been building for a number of years. From 1990 to 2008, the bureau says the number of contract positions grew from 1.1 million to 2.3 million and includes a larger share of workers in higher-skill occupations.

Another labor bureau study found that about one in nine American workers is self-employed. It’s not just entry level, or even midcareer, job hunters who are joining the freelance world. Increasingly, top-level managers and executive teams are being shaken from established bureaucracies, replaced by temporary CEOs and troubleshooters brought in for their expertise in solving specific problems.

It is incredibly bizarre that employers turned to contract workers en masse as a cost-saving measure, yet now appear to be fighting the very healthcare reform made necessary by that act. Do they just not want a workforce with health insurance? That makes sense how, exactly?

Individuals trying to access the health insurance market have always been at a disadvantage: we’ve paid more and received less, we’ve paid our premiums and been denied coverage when we needed it, we’ve had rationed care, we’ve been loners in a marketplace dominated by big pools. Obamacare levels the playing field for all workers — including those who are out of work, in between jobs, or just starting out.

That Southern states are fighting this would be hilarious were it not so typical. This is how how the South has dealt with everything tp come down modernity’s highway: petulant intransigence followed, eventually, by grudging acceptance.

In the meantime thousands if not tens of thousands must suffer from this willful, self-imposed ignorance.

Same as it ever was.

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12 Comments

Filed under health insurance, healthcare, South, Tennessee

12 responses to “Kicking & Screaming

  1. I think that you’re caught between a rock and a hard place, Southern Beale. The reason you so many fucking whackjobs in the TN lege is…well, you know where this is going. I know that gerrymandering has something to do with it, but there are a lot of pretty stupid, angry, vengeful people going to the polls and they WILL cut off their own noses to spite their faces.

  2. That should have been, “the reason that you have so many whackjobs…”.

  3. Somebody else used this quote yesterday:

    “If the Republicans will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. Adlai E. Stevenson”*(

    I think it’s pretty much spot-on for just about any topic that involves the current political climate.

    * Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/adlaieste107311.html#Vffyrd6MRZ4eUwlX.99

    • Ah good ol’ Adlai. The man was a meme generator before his time. This one seems particularly apt:

      A hypocrite is the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree, then mount the stump and make a speech for conservation.

      That is EXACTLY what Republicans are doing in Red States like Tennessee, as Gawande so rightly noted in that New Yorker link:

      The second is a refusal to operate a state health exchange that would provide individuals with insurance options. In effect, conservatives are choosing to make Washington set up the insurance market, and then complaining about a government takeover.

      What’s even more amazing is that rubes are buying this nonsense.

      • deep

        What’s even more amazing is that rubes are buying this nonsense.

        Because there is a scary Kenyan-Muslim in the Whitehouse!

  4. Perfect and lucid explication. Genius, thy name is Southern Beale.

  5. Kosh III

    Yeah, I visited a aprt of Eastern KY so faaaaar back there over the weekend.
    One woman I overheard being upset over Obamacare because it was going to cause the SHUTDOWN and then Obama could declare martial law and rule forever.
    Incredible!

    • One woman I overheard being upset over Obamacare because it was going to cause the SHUTDOWN and then Obama could declare martial law and rule forever.

      Rats, they’re on to us! Damn you, Tea Party!!! { shakes fist in air }

      LOL.

      To be fair, I remember during the Bush years some far Lefties telling me Bush was going to declare martial law and cancel the 2006 midterms, rule forever with his Blackwater minions controlling the new security state. When Katrina happened and Blackwater actually did hit the streets, I know some folks who sold everything and head for the hills. I’m not making this up!

      Both sides do it. :-)

      (Except, of course, the left doesn’t have these crackpots sitting in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.)

  6. Dan

    It would have been better to have nationalized the entire shebang.

    Just pay 1% (or whatever) of what you earn and you get antibiotics and emergency care without ever having to worry about it.

    This reform isn’t going to be a train wreck but it’s going to cause considerable damage to the second class carriages

    • Dan why do you hate America? ;-)

      It’s definitely not what progressives wanted but looking at how the Republicans have behaved as if this were the death of Democracy and Freedom and Puppies and Apple Pie, it’s clearly the best we could have hoped for, until some sanity returns to the U.S. Congress.

      It will be tweaked when Democrats take over the House in 2014.

      • “It will be tweaked when Democrats take over the House in 2014.”

        I’m hoping that you’re right but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

        I’m reading a lot of comments in various places by people who say President Obama hasn’t done anything he should have done and yada, yada, yada…The reality is that he’s been dealing with a hostile Congress since 1/23/2009. That he’s gotten anything done is amazing. I have no idea why he does what he does but I’m dead certain that if we had McPalin or Mittunswillard in there it would much worse.