Friday, December 26, 2014

The day that zero was greater than 7,041,000

The day that zero was greater than 7,041,000

I would say that you've probably heard today's big news -- but then I remembered that a lot of readers only watch Fox News. So let me share it: The number of people who signed up for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, has hit 7,041,000 (and growing) -- thus exceeding the administration's original target. I think that's very good news -- but I also think it's also not totally reflective of the real picture.

In reality, America's health care glass is half-full, and thanks to the expansion of Medicaid the number of formerly uninsured who now have coverage is probably even higher than 7 million, perhaps approaching 10 million or more. For example, in Kentucky -- a state with a high poverty rate -- it's reported that 40 percent of the once-uninsured have coverage. That's better than good news -- it's fantastic.

But the glass is also half empty -- because millions of Americans still remain uninsured, even after health care reform. That's maddening -- we could make a huge dent in the uninsured if the 25 states that didn't expand Medicaid would simply get with the program. (In Pennsylvania, the long-term solution may be simply electing a new governor...just putting that out there). And I hope our policy makers don't rest until America follows the path of other civilized nations toward universal coverage. No family, in a nation with so much prosperity, should have to endure the heartbreak of a medical bankruptcy...or watch a love one die because he didn't have the money to visit the doctor soon enough. In spite of today's news, in spite of tales of fellow citizens getting medical tratment they've put off for years, you will see some people argue in the comments below that today's health care news is actually terrible.

Good luck with that.

But I will say this -- I'd agree that the health care news isn't the best political story of the day. What could be better? Check this out:

March 2014 marked the first time in more than a decade that there were zero U.S. fatalities among American troops engaging in combat, according to numbers from the Department of Defense.

After a decade at war in the post-9/11 environment, with major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and smaller conflicts in the various other countries where the U.S. uses more covert methods to fight against terrorism, the lack of combat deaths in March 2014 marks a milestone. In Iraq, the death toll reached 4,474 before the last soldier fell in November 2011. For years after the war’s launch in 2003, no months passed where at least one American didn’t die in battle and then only towards the end of the conflict did the numbers taper off enough to have a month where the only fatalities were non-combat related.

That is really great news for our military families. As the item notes, the bigger situation in Afghanistan is no cause for a ticker tape parade, but it does feel like a corner is turned here. America still has many problems, but we weren't even going to get to Square One until we scaled back our military adventurism abroad and started addressing the inequity here at home.

Welcome to Square One.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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