The president brings cheer, but how about some results?

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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It’s no surprise that President Obama would choose Dallas to defend the Affordable Care Act.

Unlike Tarrant and surrounding counties, Dallas is mostly Democratic, and the party must keep the support of the growing Hispanic voter base there in order to have any hope of winning a statewide election in 2014 or 2018.

With leadership from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the Dallas Area Interfaith charity has announced plans to distribute 100,000 copies of a booklet telling the poor how to claim an income tax credit and “Cut Your Cost For Health Insurance.”

Hundreds of leaders of Dallas churches and nonprofit groups have agreed to help uninsured Texans find coverage. The organization raised $20,000 there for the information campaign.

Dallas Area Interfaith also has been pressing state leaders to expand Medicaid welfare programs to include not only the poor but also the working poor — those who make too much to qualify for subsidized care but too little to afford insurance coverage.

In short, these are exactly the kind of local leaders who have been hurt most by the embarrassing computer problems and nightmarish information snafus involving the law forever known as Obamacare.

For their persistence, they were rewarded Tuesday with a presidential visit and yet another apology for the website problems.

But they also were given a jolt of political rhetoric, with Obama saying “There’s no state that actually needs this more than Texas” and later criticizing Gov. Rick Perry’s resistance as “bullheadedness.”

Perry responded by releasing an audio statement saying Obama “deceived the American people” about whether current healthcare plans would continue and now is trying to “salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program.”

In Austin, Attorney General Greg Abbott was saying again that the healthcare “navigators” helping uninsured Texans find coverage also may have too much access to private health and identity information.

He wrote a letter asking the Texas insurance commissioner to consider new rules and closer regulation.

In short, both sides fell back on the familiar ideological arguments for promoting or defying the healthcare act.

In the middle of this argument, let’s not lose focus on the reason for a healthcare law: the millions of Americans and estimated 6 million Texans without health insurance.

The best argument for some sort of federal or state healthcare law is as close as the west Dallas, central Arlington and southeast Fort Worth neighborhoods represented in Congress by U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

According to Bloomberg, of the 435 congressional districts, Veasey’s has the highest percentage of uninsured or under-insured residents in America.

In a study based on U.S. Census data, nearly 38 percent of residents in Veasey’s District 33 lack sufficient coverage and will benefit from the healthcare law, many with help from the income tax credit.

Obviously, there are problems with the computers, the complicated federal system, the different plans offered and, in some ways, with the healthcare law itself.

But while both sides hash out the politics, they should not lose sight of the people they serve.

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