Residents of Kentucky (and every other state) should read this.

Just received the following email from a Kentucky resident. With his permission, I'm leaving out his name but am presenting it verbatim otherwise, with no further comment:

Thanks for discrediting good ol' Mitch. What a joke. I am a resident of Kentucky and here's how the ACA impacts my family with other opinions included for good measure.

We have read and heard the partisan battle waged for and against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Much has been written and said, but I live it. I experience it. But to truly evaluate it requires good old-fashioned common sense. For some reason, this has gone the way of bipartisan politics.

Since I am a consultant paid on a per hour basis, I do not receive nor do I expect to receive health benefits through my employer. We purchased our health plan through the Kentucky Health Exchange – KYNECT: a marketplace to purchase health plans created via the ACA. We chose a silver plan.

MONTHLY PREMIUM: $614/$7,368 (annual cost)

  • Percentage of monthly take home pay: 16%

MONTHLY PREMIUM W/ ACA TAX CREDITS: $303/$3,636 (annual cost)

  • Percentage of monthly take home pay: 8%

We took the the tax credits in advance understanding that come April of 2015, depending on our taxable income, we could owe a portion of the credit. That is fine with us. We will pay our share.

The ACA ties monthly premiums to income level. Why should it not? Should we pay the same amount as a family earning $250K? SAME CARE. SAME ACCESS. SAME NETWORK. The family earning $250K would pay approximately 5% of their take home pay for the $614 health plan. Is that unfair? Is that bad law? Common sense would say no.

The ACA reduces the burden of health premiums on our family. By reducing this monthly expense, we have a little extra to purchase products, use services, save for vacation, and invest in the market. We have a little less anxiety and stress month to month. Why do we want a healthcare system that takes more and more from our incomes and places stress and anxiety on individuals and families? I hope we would not. It makes no sense.

Laws and policies shape the free market. There is no true ‘free market’; there is a reason why large dollars are spent on lobbying. So the question is not whether Government should be regulating the market, but how and what it should be regulating. Healthcare is big business. It reaps large profits for insurance companies and investment returns for shareholders. Our healthcare is not patient-centered; it is profit-centered.

Corporations are charged with making money and rightfully so. Thus, it is no surprise that from 1999-2009, a Kaiser Health Foundation study found health premiums for families rose 131%. Premiums were rising rapidly prior to the ACA. And while premiums rose, wages remained and do remain stagnant. Reform was and is needed. It’s common sense.

There is so much wrong with our healthcare system. More reform is needed but at least the ACA is a start. Unfortunately in this adversarial political culture, our leaders do not problem solve together. When a salient issue presents itself that impacts us all, we should be able to trust that our elected leadership will work to resolve it. No solution to a complex issue will please everyone. But the ACA is grounded in common sense.

We need an alternative to how we purchase healthcare. We need everyone to have access to affordable quality healthcare. We need everyone to purchase a quality health plan. We need to tailor that cost to income level. It makes sense.

It is so easy to scream, ‘REPEAL’ the law. That requires no effort. No compromise. No problem solving. It is the easy way out. What requires effort is evaluating what works and does not work with the ACA. To understand how it is working and where it is falling short. Then, working together to improve it. We could actually be on the verge of truly reforming healthcare, but a return to the status quo is NOT THE ANSWER.

Thank you Mr. President. Thank you and others for their hard work to begin solving this complex problem. My family has already felt its impact and we are better off because of it. Is it perfect? No. But I am hopeful it remains and only improves over time. We all are familiar with the adage ‘as long as you have your health.’ But should it come with such a high price tag? Of course not. It doesn’t make any sense.