Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

August 12, 2013

BRIAN HOWEY: Obamacare and the need for hard questions

Hoosiers are owed pragmatic discussions with state leaders.

On Aug. 24, 2001, a French stunt-man named Thierry Devaux tried to bungee jump off of Lady Liberty’s torch in New York Harbor, and ended up dangling on his parasail from her wrist.

It was a whimsical moment that delighted tourists, cable news producers and viewers across the globe. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani would call the thrill-seeking “Terry Do” an “idiot” as the moment disappeared into the late summer haze and, a few weeks later, a maelstrom.

That, of course, would be the Sept. 11 terror attacks just across the harbor. “Terry Do” became terror pilots, the World Trade Center towers fell, and everything changed.

Indiana’s political and policy establishment has been riveted by a series of emails from former Gov. Mitch Daniels and former state Superintendent Tony Bennett that has now led to an investigation into the A-through-F school grading program. Earlier this year, everyone was obsessed with Gov. Mike Pence’s income tax cut.

The real billion dollar story — the maelstrom on the brink — is Obamacare and the impact it is going to have on hundreds of thousands of poorer Hoosiers, tens of thousands of families, the state’s community hospital systems, local safety-net organizations, the more than $10 billion Indiana lawmakers may leave on the table, and the next generation of state and local budgets.

There are so many facets to this story that we don’t know about, that this is essentially a call to action for the various news organizations, reporters and opinion shapers to go out into their communities — and into the Indiana Statehouse and state agencies — and begin to ask the hard, penetrating questions.

Right now, we have about a thimbleful of relevant information on this topic and there is an ocean of data to process.

So much of the debate over Obamacare has taken on sharp, partisan and ideological trimmings. But the fact is, it’s the law of the land and will require pragmatism to deal with the myriad of impacts.

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