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Jonathan Gramling
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Vol. 9   No. 17
APRIL
17, 2014
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UNIQUE HITS
Celebrate National Poetry Month!
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                                          
Obamacare & Spring
A Journey to the Soul
The UW Odyssey Project Celebrates
National Poetry Month
A press release from The White House came into my e-mail slot yesterday afternoon that put a smile on
my face. The e-mail concerned the results of the first round of Obamacare eligibility.

• 8 million people signed up for private insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace. For states that
have Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces, 35 percent of those who signed up are under 35 years old and
28 percent are between 18 and 34 years old, virtually the same youth percentage that signed up in
Massachusetts in their first year of health reform.

• 3 million young adults gained coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act by being able to stay on their
parents plan.

• 3 million more people were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP as of February, compared to before the
Marketplaces opened. Medicaid and CHIP enrollment continues year-round.

• 5 million people are enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards outside the Marketplace, according to a
CBO estimate. When insurers set premiums for next year, they are required to look at everyone who
enrolled in plans that meet ACA standards, both on and off the Marketplace.

I’m feeling pretty good about those numbers. Approximately 19 million people — or approximately 40
percent of the 48 million people who did not have health insurance before the components of Obamacare
started to take effect — now have health insurance. This does not count the tens of millions of others
who have been impacted because of the mandated free preventative services and the elimination of pre-
existing conditions as a cause for the denial of health insurance enrollment.

Of course these numbers could be even higher if all 50 states had participated in the expansion of the
Medicaid program. It is estimated that 5.7 million people will be uninsured in 2016 because 24 states —
including Wisconsin — have not expanded Medicaid. When Governor Scott Walker touts in his newest
television ads that Wisconsinites are in a better economic place than they were four years ago, which
Wisconsinites is he talking about?

It is my hope that this will end the fundamental wrangling about Obamacare. Over the past couple of
years, the House of Representatives has voted something like 50 times to repeal Obamacare. Coupled
with the record number of days that they were not convened in Washington, I know their time could be
put to better use than endless political posturing. Don’t they have anything better to do? Perhaps they
should pay back part of their Congressional salary for the excessive days that they have been away.

Obamacare is here to stay and so everyone involved in decision-making in Washington should be
working to make it better and not eliminating it. And don’t they realize that we have a lot more job
creating that needs to go on?

In my view, the successful implementation of Obamacare is an important step in eliminating racial health
disparities. Now that socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals — poor folks who are
disproportionately people of color — will have their own heath insurance, as Bill Greer, executive
director of the Journey Mental Health Center said elsewhere in this issue, they have “the option of being
in front of the line as opposed to the back of the wait list.”

Now there are other factors that go into creating racial health disparities, helping poor people obtain
health insurance means they are at least in the game of receiving regular prevention and intervention
health services. This is the beginning.

***
I thought it was Spring last week. The temperature got up higher than 60 degrees for more than a 25-hour
period of time before it dipped back down below freezing. As I drove around the city, I saw people in
shorts jogging along Lake Monona. I could hear birds chirping as I drove along with my windows rolled
down and no one had the bass turned up real high in the car next to me. People had smiles on their faces
and were lingering outside. And didn’t that sunlight feel good?

So what’s up with the three days in a row when I have awoken to snow or severe frost n my car? Did I
miss spring, summer and fall? What’s up?

I wish I knew!