Cleaning Out the In Box 1: Pryor ad in AR, Lt. Gov. candidate pushing Single Payer in VT, Ins. Co's may still be acting like jerks in WA

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick bits:

ARKANSAS:

Mark Pryor shows Democrats how they should campaign on the Affordable Care Act in a red state. You don't have to mention Obamacare (which technically doesn't even exist), you don't have to even mention the Affordable Care Act. You do have to personalize what the law actually means for real people with real medical issues which were fixed or improved by the law:

Read more on this ad & angle from Greg Sargent of the Washington Post.

VERMONT:

Vermont's primary is coming up next week. I know nothing whatsoever about any of the candidates there (I'm here in Michigan), so don't take this as an endorsement, but the Bennington Banner does have an interesting article about a guy named Dean Corren who's running for Lt. Governor...and is strongly supporting the already-in-progress move by the state towards single payer.

This isn't a particularly unusual position for a Vermont Democrat, of course, but what's especially interesting to me is that while critics have used the state's technical woes with their own state-run ACA exchange as ammunition to argue against single payer, Corren is using those very failures, rightly in my opinion, to argue in favor of going SP:

Corren said the problems Vermont has had with its health care exchange illustrate what is wrong with the multi-payer system. The exchange, called Vermont Health Connect, was mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act, and attempts to make purchasing health care something simple that can be done online. Corren said there is nothing simple about the way health care is purchased now, and while the exchange and a single-payer system are not the same things the problems have given single-payer's opponents ammunition.

I don't know much about VT's specific single-payer gameplan, but I do know that I absolutely agree that all this muss & fuss about different exchanges, different website platforms, convoluted tax subsidy formulas, insurance company games, etc etc would be completely unnecessary if we simply moved to a single payer system nationally. I've always maintained that I support the ACA for two reasons: First, in spite of how complicated and confusing it can be, it's still better than the system we had a few years ago (which is more of an indictment of that system than a defense of the ACA, really); and second, because it opens the door towards moving towards single payer, which is my ultimate goal here.

WASHINGTON STATE:

Speaking of "insurance company games", a rather disappointing (but hardly surprising) story out of Washington State, which has actually been one of the success stories of the ACA exchanges so far:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ending insurance discrimination against the sick was a central goal of the nation's health care overhaul, but leading patient groups say that promise is being undermined by new barriers from insurers.

...With open enrollment for 2015 three months away, the Obama administration is being pressed to enforce the Affordable Care Act's anti-discrimination provisions. Some regulations have been issued; others are pending after more than four years.

More than 300 patient advocacy groups recently wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to complain about some insurer tactics that "are highly discriminatory against patients with chronic health conditions and may ... violate the (law's) nondiscrimination provisions."

...Washington state's insurance commissioner, Mike Kreidler, said "there is no question" that discrimination is creeping back. "The question is whether we are catching it or not," added Kreidler, a Democrat.

The concerns seem to be bipartisan; Kreidler's Republican counterpart in Kansas, Sandy Praeger, didn't fully agree with him but definitely agreed that it's something to be on the lookout for.