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Article published April 11, 2013
Full story not told
Jim West Slippery Rock Township
I’m writing to comment on two articles that appeared on the front page of the April 1 Butler Eagle. One of the articles described a mass-marketing effort the Obama administration is undertaking to convince Americans to sign up for Obamacare. That Associated Press article revealed that the challenge for the administration is to sign up many young, healthy individuals to offset the costs of covering Generation X and baby boomers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identifies several barriers to getting Americans to sign up. The healthy and young have low motivation to enroll (they are generally healthy and don’t have a lot of money). Those over 50 “fear the unknown” and “have difficulty navigating the health care system.” The article also notes that the Obama administration hopes to craft “winning pitches” to get the public to embrace Obamacare in advance of the 2014 midterm elections. The other article, written by a Butler Eagle reporter, describes ongoing problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ inability to process claims in a reasonable time. The VA has a backlog of 600,000 claims, with an average wait of 273 days. The backlog at the Pittsburgh office is a stunning 379 days. The article notes several sources of inefficiencies, including phoning veterans with Alzheimer’s disease to interview them. I’d really like to believe that the placement of both of those articles on the front page that day was a well-crafted April Fools’ Day prank by the Butler Eagle’s editors. But I’m afraid both are real. We have one article about a politically inspired marketing campaign to convince Americans that government-run health care is a good thing and we should sign up. And then we have a second article about the government’s miserable inability to address problems with the handling of veterans’ benefits. I suggest that Americans over 50 have a good reason for fear. And, it is not fear of the unknown. They understand that the government is just not good at running something as complicated as health care. The real front page story should be that the administration is pushing Obamacare with a big mass-marketing program paid for by our tax dollars. And, the administration is doing this despite the fact that the majority of Americans have serious reservations about Obamacare. And right here in our backyard we have a clear example that demonstrates that the government is incapable of running an effective health care program.