2013: Things that Made Us Go “Hmmm…” In the Health Sphere

It is time to bid farewell to 2013 and gear up for the adventures that await us in 2014. But, before we cast our eyes toward the future, let’s take a brief moment to reflect – in the immortal words of C+C Music Factory – on the top five “things that made us go ‘hmmm…’” in the health sphere over the past year.

View On Black View of Gothenburg from the dock...

View of Gothenburg from the docks at New Years Eve.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5.    Despite the fact that one quarter of Americans have trouble putting food on the table, Congress voted to cut $4.1 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly called ‘food stamps’), ultimately cutting about $90 a month in benefits for 500,000 households. For anyone who thinks that living on $1.50 per meal is easy, we would invite them to join Cory Booker, our colleague Demetria Barrett, and others in taking the SNAP Challenge.

 4.    Although the Federal Government has offered states funds for Medicaid Expansion, only two Southern States – Arkansas and Kentucky – voted to expand Medicaid to their poorest citizens. Knowing that over 85% of the nation’s persistently poor counties are concentrated in the South, it seems likely that the neediest Americans will continue to struggle without access to health insurance despite the best intentions of Obamacare.

3.    Michigan just joined 8 other states that are now requiring women to purchase a separate insurance plan to cover potential abortions. Critics are calling this “rape insurance,” rightly pointing out that many women don’t know ahead of time that they’ll need an abortion – especially in cases of rape.

2.    The guys in charge of Healthcare.gov got an honorary “F” in Computer Science after thousands of Americans experienced problems signing up for healthcare due to site glitches. Only 106,000 Americans signed up for health plans in the first month of Affordable Care Act (ACA) a.k.a. Obamacare enrollment, falling short of the Administration’s projections that approximately half a million people would enroll within that time period.

Those of us living in Maryland also experienced problems logging into our state-based marketplace after contractor in-fighting stymied the launch of the “Maryland Health Connection” website. Those of us on the WellPower Blog team remain optimistic about the eventual success of Obamacare, considering the long-term accessibility and coverage benefits.

 

And finally, the #1 “thing that made us go ‘hmmm…’” in 2013:

  1. 1.    The Federal Government shut down in a failed attempt by a handful of legislators to defund the ACA. Despite the fact that the ACA was upheld by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, a few lone pouters in the House of Representatives refused to pass legislation to fund the government unless Obamacare was stripped of all funding. The government reopened on October 17th following a 16 day partial shutdown, narrowly averting a scenario wherein the U.S. would have defaulted on loans.

 

Here’s hoping for a 2014 filled with less “hmmm…” and more “mmm hmm!” Happy New Year from the WellPower Blog Team!

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I have extensive experience coordinating communications and outreach initiatives focused on health and social issues. In my current position as Project Specialist, I provide communications technical assistance to regional and federal efforts within the National Partnership for Action initiative, with support from the Office of Minority Health. I am a former Peace Corps volunteer who worked on health and social affairs projects in the Federated States of Micronesia. Read more.