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David Gaul
Shelby County Democratic Party Co-Chair


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David Gaul
Donna Clothier
Kathleen Cue

KEEP THE FAITH

"DON'T PANIC!"

Those of you who have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will recognize the phrase immediately.  Go grab your copy of the 1979 Douglas Adams novel, and you will see those words on the cover. 

It's good advice, especially now for some Democrats in Congress with regard to the Affordable Care Act.  Some are starting to panic.  They've gotten some emails and phone calls from folks who have a bad story to tell about the ACA, and they're tying themselves into knots.

Get a spine.  Be patient.  Stop being a jellyfish!  Stop being a wus!  Grow a pair.  It's obvious what is going on.  Don't fall for it.  Throughout the long history of the ACA, Republicans have spared no effort to destroy the law or at least weaken it by any means possible.  To that end, they have repealed the law in John Boehner's House forty-two times.  They have shutdown the government.  They have taken us to the precipice of federal default and world economic collapse.  They hate this law.  They're rabid about it.  They're mad dogs who will stop at nothing.

Now, they and their masters at Fox News are exploiting the problems with the website.  Furthermore, Republican strategists are encouraging anyone with a bad story to tell to make noise.  Get media attention.  Jump up and down.  Wave your arms about.  Scream about how Obama lied.  They know if just a few Democrats can be turned to the dark side--to use a Star Wars metaphor--they may just yet get legislative changes to the law that will in effect weaken it and possibly destroy it. 

This is what they do.  They exploit a problem.  They dwell on it ad nauseam.  They have hearings.  They do the full Benghazi in the hope of provoking a knee-jerk reaction on the part of Democrats.  Maybe the President fires somebody.  Maybe somebody they don't like resigns.  Maybe Democrats back off.  Maybe Democrats panic and shoot themselves in the foot.

Don't succumb, Democrats!  Be strong.  Stay on the horse.  This is going to work.  The trouble is Americans these days have all the patience of an amoeba.  Now, an amoeba that has a lifespan of maybe two days might have a reason to panic, but we don't.  For a country that has never had a system of health insurance for those under the age of 65 in its entire 237-year history, why do we suddenly demand that a new system be fully functional and operating like a well-oiled machine in a matter of a few weeks?  If this kind of temperament had existed in the early days of the space program, we would have given up our quest to get to the moon after those early Redstone rockets blew up and collapsed on their launching pads.

Sure, the process for accessing the ACA has not been smooth.  I know.  I'm in the system.  As a farmer, I'm self-employed, and I buy my own insurance.  My policy was grandfathered in,  and I haven't received a cancellation notice.  My premium is, in fact, going up by $20, but my premium has been going up every single year for twelve years.  $20 is a relatively small bump compared to some of the increases over the years.  Nevertheless, I'm eligible to go on the exchanges and shop for something better if it exists because I am self-employed.

The online experiece actually went smoothly.  I went through the application process back on October 28th.  I answered all the questions about myself regarding my health and financial situation.  I filled in the security questions.  The application has been submitted.  And now I'm waiting.  I'm waiting to see if I qualify for a subsidy.  I'm waiting to see what plans may be available that offer the equivalent protections that I currently have in my insurance policy.  If a better deals presents itself, I'll jump at it.  If not, I'll stand pat. 

From time to time I have checked in on the progress of my application.  I have called the call center and have spoken to actual, living human beings.  Wait times on the phone are very short. The folks I have talked to have been informative and helpful. 

The lady I spoke to most recently described the process my application is going through.  In order to determine whether or not someone is eligible for a subsidy, a person's income has to be verified.  The only way to do that is to examine tax returns.  On the application, there is a box where the applicant states his or her income, but the federal government can't simply take folks at their word.  To do that would be to invite fraud and abuse.  We don't want that, do we?  We want the government to be fiscally responsible with our money, right?  Of course.  That's what Republicans are always harping about.  So, applications that have been completed have to be cross-referenced with a person's tax returns and with any other applicable government documentations.  This means cross-checking with the IRS and the Social Security Administration.  This cross referencing is a somewhat time-consuming process.

And it's not like ordering a book from Amazon!  It's not like buying a toaster oven from Walmart off their website.  It's not like buying that rare, vintage postcard off E-bay that shows what your town looked like back in 1888.  Its more akin to what a farmer has to do when signing up for the government farm program or what someone must do when applying for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance or what a veteran has to do when looking for VA benefits.  Questions have to be answered and verified.  The government won't give subsidies--i.e. money--to an individual just because he or she is a nice person.  It has to be justified and warranted under the guidelines of the program.  The same is true with the ACA.  In order for the federal government to issue subsidies or not issue them, a person has to be thoroughly vetted, as it were.  That's a bit more complicated than buying something off a website using Paypal.  It takes time.

Patience must be our mantra.  Somehow, some way, the American people and our ever-churning media have to stay calm and keep their wits about them.  This law will work.  This law will liftoff, but we have to show some gumption and not act like a bunch of wet hens. 

Remember, Republicans are only out to destroy the law.  They have no interest in saving the law or improving it.  They only want to kill it.  They only want to stomp it dead.  The only way they can succeed is if Democrats help them.  Don't do it, Democrats!   Democrats in Congress need to stop worrying about the next election.  That's a year away.  Between now and then there will be plenty of other things that will capture the attention of the American people.  By then, the rough patch that the ACA has endured during these first weeks will be a distant memory.  Hang in there.  Persevere.  All shall be well.  It's just going to take a little time.




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