Affordable Care Act gives Kentucky a future, affordable or not

Editorial Cartoon for Tuesday, Nov. 12

THE ISSUE: No single issue affected the political landscape of the 2012 United States presidential election more than the Affordable Care Act. Since President Barack Obama’s election, a government shutdown over the issue, the ACA website collapse and significant public scrutiny have plagued the act’s implementation.

Our Stance: Regardless of whether this act is good for the U.S. as a whole, it is undeniable that the state of Kentucky needed something to be done about its 640,000 uninsured people. The ACA is that necessary reform, and specifically, early results of the reform on the whole are positive in the state.

On Sept. 26, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear wrote an op-ed to the New York Times entitled “My State Needs Obamacare. Now.”

Practically begging ACA opposition to relinquish its fight, a gravely concerned Beshear wrote, “Get out of the way so I can help my people. Here in Kentucky, we cannot afford to waste another day or another life.”

As we’ve recently seen, his plea has fallen largely on deaf ears, but in the wake of the new implementation of the ACA after the government shutdown, the Herald has just one question.

Do we need “Obamacare?”

Well, yes and no.

Beshear points out in the article that Kentucky ranks specifically “among the worst, if not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking, cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart disease and diabetes.”

According to a report issued by the United Health Foundation in 2013, Beshear wasn’t exaggerating. The report, called “America’s Health Rankings,” ranked Kentucky 44th overall and in the bottom 10 of every major health category.

And with more than 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians, the current governor was right about one thing. We needed change.

There could be some drawbacks though. On Nov. 5, the New York Times issued an article entitled “In Kentucky, a Glimpse of Health Insurance Help.”

In the article, Kentucky’s state-run system, KyNect, was praised for being the bright spot of the new ACA, insuring 1,000 Kentuckians every day since its inception. This is mostly occurring through agents, created by the system, that counsel currently uninsured Kentuckians on what insurance plan could benefit them.

The drawback, the New York Times reported, is that 80 percent of these people are signing up for MediCare, not the government-run insurance option. If too many Kentuckians qualify, the state will be forced to pick up the tab of the extra expenses.

But at the very least, the ACA is connecting uneducated and impoverished people with agents that can help them find the help they need to get back on their feet and contribute to society.

Kentucky needed some sort of change, and the ACA provides it.

Regardless of whether you see this as a long-term solution for health care reform in the U.S., another 1,000 people benefit from the ACA each day in Kentucky.

These people are now insured who, without this act, would still be rolling the dice every day on possible crippling health care debt and job loss. And that is definitely a good thing.

This editorial represents the majority of the Herald’s 9-member editorial board.