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Karl Peterjohn: Accepting ACA grant was a huge mistake

  • Published Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, at 12 a.m.

The original Hippocratic oath for medical doctors says, in part, “Do no harm.” This is also good advice for politicians’ treatment of their constituents. Sadly, for this country and this nation’s health care, Obamacare fails this critical objective.

At last week’s Sedgwick County Commission meeting, an effort to separate this county from participating in Obamacare failed on a 2-3 vote. Commissioner Richard Ranzau and I voted for a resolution that pointed out the massive and growing number of failures in implementation of the federal takeover of the health care system and directed county staff to avoid participating in Obamacare as “navigators” by rejecting a navigator grant.

This vote effectively negated the commission’s 4-0 vote against Obamacare on Sept. 11 (Commissioner Tim Norton left the meeting shortly before this vote was taken). This resolution to federal elected officials did not generate much in the way of news coverage after this meeting.

This vote occurred three weeks before the Obamacare website tried and largely failed to open Oct. 1. I was not surprised that this rollout failed, but I was surprised at the size and duration of this failure. The federal government had 3 1/2 years to prepare for launching this massive new program and spent more than $500 million to build it.

Last week’s proposed resolution clearly directed county staff and should have been unnecessary if county staff had followed the direction set by the commission vote in September. The September resolution was unequivocal in its stated opposition to Obamacare. A vote more than a year ago had placed opposition to Obamacare as part of the county’s 2013 legislative agenda.

This navigator grant brought Sedgwick County into this failing program and was the reason for last week’s resolution. Since Sedgwick County has now decided to participate in providing navigators to this site – which should be shut down because of its lack of security and its incomplete nature – the county is making a huge mistake. I continue to believe it is unnecessary and unfortunate that county staff has gotten involved by accepting this grant.

The federal government’s track record on keeping private information secure, in the agencies where it is supposedly guaranteed by law, is poor. Millions are losing their health insurance and being forced onto exchanges, and tens of millions more are scheduled to lose their coverage in 2014.

Roughly half the states have declined to participate in Obamacare’s expansion. It is disappointing that three members of the Sedgwick County Commission have changed county policy and have now provided a way for county participation in the Obamacare debacle.

Karl Peterjohn is a Sedgwick County commissioner.

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