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.