I get goose bumps almost every day at work. Almost every day, I see one of my old uninsured patients who finally has health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
I have been practicing medicine in Powell County for more than 50 years. When I brought my family here in 1964, there were no physicians in the county, no drugstores and no nurses, except one working in the health department.
There was no Medicare, no Medicaid, no nursing homes or any other medical institutions. This county was occupied by a large number of the uninsured working poor.
Now, in the course of a working day (I still practice two days a week), I see patients who previously had no insurance or ability to get what most of America calls normal heath care. Now, they come in with big smiles.
For years, I have had to treat them on the severely risky option of minimal diagnosis and treatment. In the past, they clogged the emergency rooms at great cost to the hospitals and public services. When they go to the emergency room they will come back with 20 pages of notes, thousands of dollars of tests (often never paid for) and tests that have already been done and diagnoses made.
Now, they get and receive what they deserve as Americans. When I see a patient in my office, I can usually treat them with minimal cost and effort.
For example, one of my granddaughters was born with PKU, a genetic deficiency that might result in mental retardation and long-term institutionalization. Through the extraordinary discipline of my daughter and the granddaughter herself, she was able to finish college.
A new treatment came out for PKU that required her to take 19 pills a day, at an extraordinary cost, to lead a normal life.
Because of the health care law she was able to remain on her mother's insurance until age 26. She could not be released from any insurance or denied health coverage. This gave her time to go to nursing school at Bellarmine University.
She is now married to a fine young man, also from Powell County. They live in Louisville; both are very successful, pay their taxes and are positive contributors to society. She works full-time as a registered nurse at a major Louisville hospital.
Nationally, there are more than 8 million people enrolled in so-called Obamacare. There are more than 550,000 enrolled in Kentucky. What a joy that the rate of uninsured has dropped significantly.
Yet there is still marked opposition to this wonderful plan. These are the same type of conservatives who opposed Social Security in the 1930s and 1940s (I remember the bitter arguments my father and my maiden aunts had during those years).
They opposed Medicare and Medicaid during the 1960s and 1970s. Now, they oppose this advancement in care.
I am aware that the new law has many problems. The determined opposition comes from these same conservatives who would paralyze government at any cost simply to defeat President Barack Obama, regardless of the damage it does to America.