Carroll County Times

Tom Zirpoli: Shifting opinions on health care law

As more of the elements of the Affordable Care Act come into play in our daily lives, even some Republicans are admitting that changes need to be made to our health-care system and, while not perfect, the act moves us in the right direction.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported on Clint Murphy, who worked for John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, and other Congressional Republicans before and after that. In 2000 he was diagnosed with cancer. After four years of treatment, which included four rounds of chemotherapy, his cancer was in remission.
Murphy now has a new perspective on the Affordable Care Act. "When you say you're against Obamacare," said Murphy, "you're saying that you don't want people like me to have health insurance."
Murphy says because of his health history, two major insurance companies refused to sell him insurance. But now that the Affordable Care Act does not allow insurance companies to deny coverage based upon pre-existing conditions, Murphy is able to secure the coverage he needs.
He says that he is "disillusioned" with the GOP's response to Obamacare. "There are some parts of the law that have legitimate problems and need to be addressed by the House and the Senate through the legislative process," Murphy said, "but the Republican 'all or nothing position' is creating an unnecessary stalemate that puts people like me at an incredible risk."
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, of Illinois, had a stroke in 2012. After a year of intensive rehabilitation, he was able to return to his job in the Senate this year. "My concern is what happens if you have a stroke and you're not in the U.S. Senate," Kirk said during an interview with the National Journal. "The reality is that if you're on Illinois Medicaid and are a stroke survivor, you will get just five visits to the rehab specialist."
Indeed, in Illinois, Medicaid patients are limited to only 11 rehabilitative sessions following a stroke. But Kirk, a U.S. Senator, was able to secure unlimited sessions - as many as he needed - for a complete recovery.
It has been stated by many that if members of Congress had the type of health-care insurance that the average American has, they would be more open to the Affordable Care Act. But because they are afforded the best of care by the U.S. government - with our tax dollars - they are unaware of the challenges ordinary Americans face in trying to secure affordable insurance.
Kirk, and others who are now more sympathetic to the health-care needs of Americans, are under attack by the Tea Party contingent of the GOP. At least two Tea Party groups are running ads against other Republicans who are trying to improve health-care coverage for average Americans. Many of those under attack are Republican governors who, unlike members of Congress who don't need to live with the consequences of their acts, actually need to run a state and provide for their citizens
An important part of the Affordable Care Act is the expansion of Medicaid coverage for citizens who are unable to afford health-care insurance. Governors of both parties understand that by accepting federal money to expand Medicaid in their states, hundreds of thousands of citizens within their states will finally have health-care insurance.
In Michigan, for example, about 500,000 more citizens will receive health-care coverage. Thus, the expansion was approved by both the Republican governor of Michigan and the Republican controlled legislature there.
It is unfortunate that some folks are unable to understand a problem unless they have a personal experience that opens their eyes. But bless the people who are able to empathize with others without actually walking in their shoes.