SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 11, 2014

Tisei: State needs Obamacare waiver

(Continued)

Top Democrat and former chairman of the Healthcare Committee John McDonough recently drew a lot of attention when he blogged, “I can’t name a single Massachusetts official who is leveling with the public on this national embarrassment.” He added, there is “no explanation, no plan and no hope” for the current situation in Massachusetts. McDonough is correct. Our elected officials need to admit we have a serious problem on our hands. So far, we’ve only heard silence from those who are elected to help us provide for the most vulnerable.

Clearly, Massachusetts needs a waiver from Obamacare so we can get back to doing what we were already doing well. This isn’t a radical request. More than 1,200 waivers have already been granted, but in typical Washington fashion, they’ve gone to the politically powerful and their friends. In Nancy Pelosi’s congressional district, for example, restaurants and nightclubs were given waivers from some of Obamacare’s mandates. Why is it that Nancy Pelosi’s nightclubs get special treatment, but an entire state that had near universal coverage is being punished?

If the Obama administration will not grant a waiver, then legislation should be filed immediately to exempt Massachusetts from the most onerous provisions of the law. Better yet, any state that had near universal coverage should also be exempted from the law.

In Washington, it doesn’t seem that either Republicans or Democrats are serious about fixing the harmful consequences of Obamacare. One side is hung up on its repeal, and the other is defending it at all hazards.

People just want their leaders to listen to and work for them, like we did here in Massachusetts. As a state senator, I supported and helped pass our state’s trailblazing healthcare law in 2006, because I believed that healthcare needed be accessible to every resident of our state.

Washington needs to start listening again to those on the front lines — the caseworkers, the doctors, the nurses and, most importantly, the people — who need healthcare to work for them. As a state, we did it once, and with the right leadership in Washington we can do it again.

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Richard Tisei is the former minority leader of Massachusetts State Senate and is a candidate for Congress in Massachusetts 6th Congressional District.

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