Room 113. The name plate on the massive wooden door identified this room, located down a hallway in the Statehouse, stuck between a stairwell and the men’s room, as the William Henry Harrison Room. Our ninth President, who served a little more than thirty days, merits the honor of a room, just not a really good one.
So much of our politics resembles Room 113. Style vs. Substance. The appearance of action attempting to replace actually doing something.
I was in Columbus to meet with Members of the Ohio House and Senate. It was our annual Day at the Statehouse, an event organized by the Ohio Association of Health Underwriters. Our task is the same every year – how can we help our lawmakers to make it easier for Ohioans to get the health insurance they want and need.
The last few years have been more challenging. We, the State’s insurance agents, are uniquely qualified to explain how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has helped and hurt Ohioans. We know where Ohio laws and regulations have protected our clients. We also know where our State’s laws and regulations have made the acquisition of insurance more difficult or even nearly impossible.
Our annual visit to Columbus has become more difficult. Democrats are loathe to admit that the PPACA needs to be tweaked, lest that admission be perceived as a sign of weakness. And Republicans are afraid to acknowledge that anything, ANYTHING, good came from Obamacare. Republicans control the House and the Senate. Governor Kasich is a Republican. More and more of them are beginning to concede, albeit quietly, that the law is here to stay. But moving to make the law more functional is still tricky. And with the Republicans controlling the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s Office, it is up to them if anything is to be done.
Roaming the halls of our Statehouse, I met legislators from both parties who honestly, sincerely want to have a positive impact on the lives of average Ohioans. I met aides clearly aware of pending legislation in both chambers.
So this was a good year. But there are still lots of members, from both sides of the aisle, that have no interest in details, regulations, or functionality. Instead, every issue for them boils down to the lowest common denominator of Us vs. Them.
And while they are busy scoring points, we are stuck waiting for the State to make it easier for Ohioans to get health insurance. Eleven and a half million people stuck in Room 113.
Coming soon: No? Did you say No? Thank you!