The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 15, 2013

Our Readers Speak — Thursday, August 14, 2013


— After serving 17 years in the West Virginia Legislature as a Democrat, State Sen. Evan Jenkins has decided to switch his party affiliation to Republican and challenge the incumbent Congressman Nick Rahall.

In announcing his candidacy, Jenkins pointed to Rahall’s support of the Affordable Care Act. Jenkins stated that the legislation would, in his view, cost the state too much money and somehow restrict a patient’s ability to choose his or her own doctor.

Regarding the future cost of expanding the availability of health insurance, such costs are born anyway in the form of higher payments for emergency room visits and shifting the cost of treatment for the uninsured. In addition, nothing in the Affordable Care Act explicitly prevents patients from choosing their own doctor.

As the executive director of the West Virginia Medical Association, one would think Mr. Jenkins would be well aware of the provisions in the health care legislation. However, he persists in repeating the lies House Speaker John Boehner and his “tea party” allies have been spreading for the past two and a half years.

The Affordable Care Act is based on three basic ideas. First, affordable access to health insurance should be available to all Americans notwithstanding any pre-existing health related conditions.

Second, in order to spread out the insurable risk everyone should be required to obtain health insurance even if they are currently healthy. Third, premium subsidies should be available to those unable to afford the cost of insurance.

In short, implementation of the Act will reassure those too sick or too poor to obtain adequate insurance, as well as those who fear losing their existing coverage due to a job loss or catastrophic illness.

One has to be wary of any political candidate who runs for office under one political party, accepts positions of leadership under the same political banner and then at the first inkling of political expediency suddenly declares the principals of that party to be an anathema to the public interest.

Access to affordable health insurance has been a basic tenant of the Democrat party since the administration of Harry Truman.

If somehow he is elected, Mr. Jenkins should feel quite at home among the ignorant dimwits that currently dominate the House Republican leadership.

David T. Kennedy

Beckley