Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Change Takes Time

Bowing to the cries of the business community, the Obama administration announced a one year delay in the implementation of a central requirement of the new health care law that requires companies with 50 or more workers to provide coverage for their employees or face fines.  The delay pushes back the controversial mandate to January 1, 2015.
Republicans celebrated the announcement as a validation of their claim that the law is an unworkable, expensive intrusion into the lives of the business community.  Speaker Boehner called the law a “train wreck” while other conservative lawmakers called for its repeal.
Now that we have observed the obligatory hair on fire outrage from the right, let’s step back and examine the facts.
The section of the law in question is a minor piece of the legislation.  Most companies with 50 or more employees already provide access to health care coverage for their employees.  It is estimated that roughly 10,000 employers would be affected by this portion of the law…less than 1% of the employers countrywide.
Claims that the law is too expensive and too unwieldy are without foundation because the key components of the law have yet to be enacted.  The keys to “Obamacare” are the “insurance exchanges’ where people without insurance can go to get coverage.  Twenty states have opted out of the program on ideological grounds, turning down over $316 billion in federal money.  The federal government will set up the exchanges in their place.  This blocking tactic by Republican state legislatures only delays the inevitable and leaves millions of people without coverage.  Until the government exchanges are put in place, the uninsured will continue to flock to emergency rooms for treatment, passing the cost of their health care onto the rest of us.
In spite of Republican claims to the contrary, most people like “Obamacare” once they understand what the bill provides.  They like the elimination of pre-existing conditions, they like the portability, they like the fact that their coverage cannot be cancelled and they like being able to keep their kids on their policy until age 26.
One of the main reasons that the opponents of Obamacare like to accentuate the difficulties in the plan’s implementation is because they have no plan of their own.  Republicans would like you to forget that before the Affordable Health Care Act was voted into law; health care in this country was costing American workers roughly 18 cents of every dollar they earned…and rising.  Yet in spite of having the most expensive health care system in the world we were lagging behind most developed nations in areas like infant mortality, obesity amd longevity of life. Obamacare is a well intended and complicated attempt to bring those costs down while improving our quality of life.  The Republicans have yet to offer a viable alternative.  When you have no idea how to fix a problem…rip the other guy’s solution.
We have said from day one that the Affordable Care Act is a flawed attempt to fit universal health care into our current private distribution system.  It will work but it will take time to evolve and work out the kinks.  This recent announcement is just part of the evolution.  Calls for its repeal are just a waste of time.  Obamacare isn’t going anywhere.  The president’s veto pen will see to that.
Republicans would be better served to help in straightening out the kinks.
The administration’s decision to announce this delay through a blog post on a holiday week was lame.  It shows a defeatist sign of weakness.  If you believe in the law, hold a press conference, take questions, and make your case to the American people.  Anything less is just playing into the hands of opponents who have nothing to offer.  There is a lot of good in this law.  Defend it!    

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