Obamacare would help IP workers

For many of the 1,100 workers employed at International Paper’s Courtland plant, the overwhelming issue is health care.

They understand they will lose their jobs. IP announced last week it will close the Courtland plant, opened in 1971. The employees are casualties of the transition to a paperless world, and they get that.

Many have skills they can utilize to sustain themselves after the plant closes. Maybe they can fix cars or build cabinets or paint siding. The work ethic that benefited IP shareholders can benefit them.

The problem for the IP workers is the same problem faced by millions of Americans. Individual health insurance is not affordable, especially in a state like Alabama monopolized by a single health insurance carrier. Accessing health care without insurance is not feasible. The only option for the uninsured is the emergency room, which does little to deal with the chronic conditions that come with age and which leads to bankruptcy for those forced to use it.

“Obamacare,” originally promoted by conservatives as a market-driven alternative to Medicare-for-all, has become a partisan hotspot. Republicans, historically champions of the laborer, feel compelled to condemn the Affordable Care Act.

Even in Alabama, one of the poorest states in the nation, elected representatives vow to do what they can to defeat a law that uses the market to provide health care to all.

In the next few months, 1,100 IP workers will be losing their jobs. Some will find new employment, complete with health insurance. Many — probably most — will piece together sustenance from a variety of odd jobs, none of which offer health insurance. But beginning in January, that’s OK. In January — if efforts by Alabama’s elected officials to defund “Obamacare” fail — they can buy individual health coverage at reasonable rates.

Gov. Robert Bentley swears he will do anything to help the IP workers. So do U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks and U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions. But all four are doing everything in their power to block health-care access to the IP workers who are soon to be unemployed.

It’s time for Congress — especially poverty-stricken Alabama’s representatives — to quit treating the Affordable Care Act as a partisan tug-of-war.

The law is imperfect, but a Congress with a desire to help those without access to adequate health care can fix it. Governors who are more interested in helping their people than undermining the president can help, too.

As 1,100 IP workers soon will discover, America’s health-care system is a mess. The Affordable Care Act is an initial step toward fixing the system, and it deserves bipartisan support.

If they care more about their constituents than about partisan bickering, the elected representatives from Alabama — including Bentley, Brooks, Shelby and Sessions — will do their best to make “Obamacare” work.

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6 Comments

Filed under Alabama politics, Health care, Obamacare

6 responses to “Obamacare would help IP workers

  1. hughmorg

    “Republicans, historically champions of the laborer,..” Really? In what universe is this so? Or can I ask when was this so? Teddy Roosevelt, maybe, if the laborer was white and Christian. (I hope to learn more about TR–“The Imperial Cruise” was a disturbing eye-opener about the man.
    Did you see the article about and quote from TN Sen. Bob Corker (R) saying the Chattanooga VW plant would be ‘crazy’ to allow/permit/encourage the UAW to represent its workers, all the while having some of these same workers sit on a labor/management panel that ‘guides’ the plant? The gall, the chutzpah of this high-and-mighty, gravy-sucking Republican pig is disgusting. He has no regard for labor, with his condescending, I-know-what’s-best-for-you attitude.

  2. hughmorg

    A laid-off IP worker will have to go thru a few extra hoops to get an ACA subsidy for his/her health insurance. His/her 2012 income may be too high for the 1/1/14 start, so an appeals process has to be initiated. There is information about this quandary at healthcare.gov and Alabama Affordable Care Act Advocates on Facebook.

  3. The Oracle

    I knew this editorial was coming as soon as I heard the news about the IP shutdown. They may not can afford food, but by golly, they have obamacare Eric, my health care premiums (at my business) have gone up substantially, despite no claims in over five years, and despite your guy saying they wouldn’t. You intimated, in an DD editorial, that they wouldn’t either. Did both you, and your imbecile president, tell me a lie? Yes or no will do.

    • Anonymous

      Ok Oracle, give us a solution! What has your solution to addressing the 10 fold rise in health care from 1980 to 2010???
      If all you do is try to undermine the effort of someone else, then you are nothing more than a gadfly.

      • The Oracle

        Okay….since you asked. How about letting health insurance companies compete across state lines for starters? Imagine BC/BS of Alabama gaining access to insure the residents of the state of Georgia….or Tennessee….or even Florida, and vice-versa. Millions upon millions of possible new customers. Think competition wouldn’t increase, and prices lowered? You would have to be nuts to think they wouldn’t. That is a REAL market based reform. This one thing alone would significantly reduce rates. We allow it to insure our houses, cars, and many other things. Why not health insurance?

        Since you asked a question Anonymous, let me ask one. How does raising taxes on medical devices (which is driving jobs overseas), or giving reduced reimbursement rates to doctors/hospitals lower health insurance rates?

        If all you do is look to the government for solutions, then you will be sorely disappointed, and are nothing more than a leech on society.

  4. MountainTopVoicesAreJustHotAirRising

    Your market-based solution is what led us to this point…the real irony here is that ACA is based on a Republican solution called “RomneyCare”, but the fact that Dems came up with it is the real source of heartburn for Republicans.
    Again, fix the problem rather than spending your time trying to undermine those that are – if your suggestion has any merit, why have your representatives not presented it?
    The present arrangement has led us to this point and cannot be maintained. Provide a solution or get out of the way of those that are trying.

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