MERIDIAN — By Brian Livingston
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., made it clear Thursday during a gathering of Meridian Lion's Club members at their weekly luncheon at Rush Foundation Hospital that he didn't like, nor did he vote for, Obamacare, or the Affordable Health Care Act.
Wicker said judging by the number of emails, texts, and letters he has received, a great many Mississippians don't care about it either.
"I can't go a day without several people telling me about the problems they are having with Obamacare," Wicker said. "It has turned out to be a disaster."
Wicker provided several examples, including that of a small businessman trying to figure out how he is going to provide insurance to eight workers while expanding his business.
"He can't expand his business if his insurance premiums go up from seven percent this year to sixty-six percent next year," Wicker said.
Wicker told of another man whose old health care provider was not covered under the Affordable Care Act and whose monthly premiums rose from $70 to $300.
Wicker said municipalities who provide health insurance are experiencing rising health care costs as well.
Wicker said the details of the Affordable Health Care Act were worked out behind closed doors with very little input from other governmental sources.
"A lot of us were forgotten in this process," Wicker said.
Wicker also said military personnel who have put in 20-plus years of service are getting shortchanged. Wicker said the amount a person who retires from the military draws is calculated on how much the soldier's base pay was in the last three years of service. Not only did the federal government not agree to adjust for the cost of living, but they also initiated a cut of 1 percent of the retirement amount.
"One of the big factors to anyone joining a branch of our military is the retirement aspect," Wicker said. "Now we are telling them, in essence, 'Sorry, we shouldn't have said that. It cost too much.'"
Wicker said that 1 percent could equal about $80,000 over the lifetime of the retiree.
"I hope we can get this reversed," Wicker said.
On the local level, Wicker said there will not be any base closings in Mississippi in the near future. He said installations such as the U.S. Air Force base in Columbus and NAS Meridian, in addition to the 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard at Key Field, are safe until at least 2017.
"I hear the president is looking at bases in the state in 2017," Wicker said. "But for now I'm glad we have avoided it this time."