Letter: Lost Opportunity

Thanks so much for "Obamacare in Knoxville" [cover story by Paige Huntoon, March 20, 2014]. The kind of community effort on which you reported, to take care of a pressing community need, should make us all proud.

I have a couple of additional thoughts on why more folks haven't signed up yet. It's obvious that the state government has used none of its communication links with citizens to give any information about the opportunities the law offers. Where is the Department of Health? Unlike states with their own state-based marketplaces, there are few resources in Tennessee for paid media and public-interest campaigns, so many folks don't have a clue about this opportunity at all. Also, since our governor decided not to have a Tennessee Marketplace, we have significantly fewer navigators to assist enrollees than states with state-based marketplaces. Finally, the state has refused to accept the $1 billion per year from the Feds ("Medicaid expansion") to cover roughly half of the uninsured in Tennessee who are too poor to sign up for even this more affordable care totally on their own dime.

Such party politics should be off the table on issues that are life and death for so many.

Richard Henighan