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March 10, 2013

Many states embrace Obamacare

Recently, the first state to sue the federal government over Obamacare accepted its provisions after all. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is on board as a matter of economic and political pragmatics.

New York and Vermont were early adopters. Their reasons differed, but their responses were identical. They realized what other states took longer to understand. Obamacare was good for their state economies and coffers, even if they don’t endorse steps toward nationalized medicine.

Our economy is certainly most empowered when employees are most healthy. But, there are many other factors that contribute to increased productivity. Our personal ethic affects our willingness to work when we might not prefer, and our off-the-job activities, risky endeavors or inactivity also affect how effective we are when at work. Our willingness, and the willingness of our employer, to invest in our productivity also helps determine whether our economies thrive.

Nonetheless, we each have a shared interest in the health of family members and co-workers. Their healthfulness makes them, and us all, more productive, especially if some of their illnesses can be transmitted to us. We have also, as a society, made a huge investment in each other’s productivity through publicly subsidized education. We must do what we can to be sure our investment pays off in increased productivity and tax revenue.

There remains legitimate debate about what the state can do. Some states believe government can promote a healthy citizenry through state-mandated insurance. Eight states have passed or are considering such universal health care, usually using existing health-insurance networks. Some argue for universal medicine as good public policy, while others argue for it as a basic human right.

Vermont goes the farthest by advocating for a single-payer system, more like Canada’s nationalized medicine. However, while Green Mountain Care will purchase services directly from health-care providers on behalf of its citizens, Vermont will still allow private insurers to compete within their network.

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