Despite What Critics Say, Obamacare is Working – Especially in FL

Rep. Reggie Fullwood

“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute,” said Thurgood Marshall.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression affected every nation on earth – some more than others. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a series of programs called the New Deal that were aimed at getting the country out of the financial rut it was in.

Although President Roosevelt didn’t directly initiate a countrywide healthcare program – he laid the foundations for it in the New Deal.

Roosevelt said, “But here is the challenge to our democracy: In this nation I see tens of millions of its citizens, a substantial part of its whole population, who at this very moment are denied the greater part of what the very lowest standards of today call the necessities of life.”

Necessities of life – well, today access to healthcare is certainly a necessity of life. President Obama will be remembered for his passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare. And critics will measure the initiativebased on factors like costs, enrollment, health outcomes, etc.

Well, the enrollment part of the equation may have started off rocky, but it’s been very successful since inception.

We recently found out that Floridians enrolled in Obamacare in higher numbers than any other state. New numbers show the state’s proportion of uninsured continues to decrease. Florida has dropped from being worse than every state but Texas, to fourth place in a rank of uninsured residents.

How is that for a program that some said would never work?

Because Florida has so many serviced-based jobs, many related to the tourism industry, employer-sponsored health insurance is comparatively low in the state. According to Census Bureau reports, only New Mexico has a lower percentage of adult residents who are insured through an employer plan.

In Florida, 51 percent of adults get coverage through their job or the job of a family member. The national average is 58 percent. But some states have phenomenal rates of coverage. For example, New Hampshire, a very small state, has employer-sponsored coverage as high as 70 percent.

While Republicans continue to criticize Obamacare, the numbers don’t lie. In fact, Florida led the charge during the initial enrollment period. That year, between Oct. 1 and March 31, nearly 1 million Floridians enrolled in health insurance through the federal marketplace. And guess what – no other state using the federal website came close.

Florida leads the 37 states using the federal run exchange in the number of people who selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported.

We know that it’s cheaper for a person to visit his or her primary care physician on a regular basis versus showing up to the emergency room to receive care when a problem has gone untreated. That is an unchallenged fact.

Universal healthcare, Obamacare, whatever you want to call it makes sense. And who benefits from it the most – low-income families and minorities.

In fact, according to HHS’s most recent data, 2.6 million Hispanics between 18 and 64 have received health insurance since October 2013. That figure correlates to a7.7 percent drop in the uninsured rate among Hispanics.

We can be a better, healthier nation through a more universal healthcare system like Obamacare. Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You really can change the world if you care enough.”

Signing off from the UF Health Emergency Room,
Reggie Fullwood

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