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Tuesday October 21st 2014

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Viewpoint: Obamacare Is Bad For You? Don’t Believe the Hype

By Charles Thornton, The Thornton Review

Sen Marco Rubio says he would shut down government over Obamacare. Really? The GOP is taking its show to the road with a grassroots army to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act after forty-nine failed attempts to repeal Obamacare. Sen Rubio is traveling across Florida this week claiming the effects of Obamacare is bad for businesses in an attempt to block Enroll America’s roll out plans to educate people about Obamacare.

Back in 2001, the Escambia Health Care Task Force found employers can’t afford to provide health insurance and employees can’t afford to buy insurance as the primary source of Escambia’s growing health care crisis. Workers too poor to buy insurance is a “side effect” of Florida’s primary employer, the tourism industry. Escambia County, as well as, the state of Florida depends heavily on tourism. Will Rubio’s Obamacare bad for business message resonate? Legislators in Tallahassee and many county government officials spending millions subsidizing tourism constitute a gift/welfare from taxpayers to tourism operators that generates very little public benefit. Evidence indicates that government expenditures and reliance on a return of investment dollars from the tourism industry is truly a zero sum game and is usually a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Will anyone step forward to challenge Rubio or the GOP’s grassroots anti-Obamacare army about the millions spent on the “bad business” of tourism an industry which in fact perpetuate poverty? The Escambia Health Care Task Force in 2001 found a continuing increase in the number of low income residents with no health insurance who were not eligible for any publicly funded health care program, such as Medicare or Medicaid. The tourism industry’s perpetuation of poverty is why workers nor employers can afford to pay for health insurance.

One thing that’s certain, since President Obama took office in January 2009, the GOP’s constant anti-Obama red meat rhetoric is an effective Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) weapon against the average red state voter. The question is, will the GOP succeed using its ODS weapon this time? Will Rubio and his merry band of GOP anti-Obamacare road warriors succeed in Escambia County, one of the sickest counties in the state?

In 2012, Partnership for a Healthy Community published its 2012 Escambia health assessment report which affirms a known known, Escambia County is a community with serious health problems. What really stood out in Partnership for a Healthy Community’s report was the fact that the 2012 report is nearly the same as its 1995 report. In other words, after nearly 18 years, there’s been little improvement in Escambia County’s health status as one of Florida’s sickest counties. Little to no improvement over an eighteen year period is really saying a lot considering Florida ranks in the bottom third of U.S. states in key indexes of health and well-being for residents.

It’s also interesting to note that most “studies” about Escambia County’s health index somehow excludes the adverse health impact of the ‘Mount Dioxin’ elephant in the proverbial room. Remember ‘Mount Dioxin’, the 344,250 ton mount of dioxin, arsenic, lead and other toxic chemicals covered with a tarpaulin? Yes, that massive pile of dioxin-laden soil at the Escambia Treating Co. Superfund site. Just wondering how many times a section of the tarp blew off during a storm since digging began 1991 causes mind freeze. How many times over the past 23 years there’s been an unreported lose tarp flying in the breeze during high winds or storms?

‘Mount Dioxin’ is a constant catastrophic threat to the health, welfare and safety of every Escambia County resident. Did you know that ‘Mount Dioxin’ is one of seven Superfund sites in Escambia County? Only four of the seven Superfund sites in Escambia County are on the EPA National Priorities list for cleanup. The Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE) website explains that the contaminants found in ‘Mount Dioxin’ can cause genetic damage, birth defects, miscarriage, heart disease, liver damage, nerve damage and leukemia, among other health effects. CATE also says that many nearby ‘Mount Dioxin’ residents or former Escambia Treating Co. workers have died from these illnesses. Disease clusters exist in communities living in the shadows of heavy pollution like Escambia’s ‘Mount Dioxin’. Residents in disease cluster communities are called “fenceline” communities. Several studies of Escambia’s healthcare disparities blame residents living in disease clusters within “fenceline” communities health problems on their self-inflicted lifestyles instead of the very real “toxic hot spots” emission and pollution from Superfund sites. An impoverish fenceline community like Escambia County with residents unable to afford health insurance to address their health care needs from toxins in fenceline communities and disease clusters must find the strength to resist the GOP’s hype.

Now that you know about healthcare costs and health impact from disease clusters and fenceline communities in Escambia County, when Sen. Rubio or the GOP frothing at the mouth anti-Obamacare grassroots warriors show up in your neighborhood with their pity the tourism industry welfare queen stories, will you believe their hype? This time, do what’s best for you, your family, your neighbors and community, resist the hype! Resist the hype and spread the word that Florida has the nation’s third highest rate of uninsured. Spread the word that Floridians NEED health insurance coverage, Escambia County residents living in one of Florida’s sickest counties NEED health insurance.

Beginning October 1, 2013 until March 31, 2014 you can spread the word to your uninsured family members, to your uninsured church members, to your uninsured friends and neighbors they can sign up to receive health care insurance. Take a page out of the GOP’s handbook, create “an echo chamber” saying “Not This Time”!

Fight back with information about available healthcare benefits. For the first time ever, millions of Americans just like you will have access to high quality, low-cost health insurance, thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sign up today to get all the information you need to get ready at Get Covered America website: getcoveredamerica.org.