The dawning of 2014 marked the end of one of the most comprehensive, costly and divisive political eras in our nation’s history. We are referring to the Republican Party’s obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Since the president signed the ACA into law on March 23, 2010 Republicans have made its repeal their number one goal. Their primary focus during the 2010 mid terms was to “Repeal Obamacare.” Their candidate for president in 2012, Mitt Romney, said that the first thing he would do if elected would be to “Repeal Obamacare.” Over the past three years the Republican led House voted over 40 times to “Repeal Obamacare.” When the Affordable Care Act went into full effect on January 1, 2014 it mercifully brought to a close any realistic chance that Republicans might actually be able to repeal the law. For in spite of all of its flaws the ACA provides benefits that are wildly popular with the vast majority of Americans:
-Thanks to the ACA you can no longer be denied coverage because you have a pre-existing health condition.
-Thanks to the ACA your health insurance can no longer be cancelled because you got sick and suddenly became an “unprofitable risk” to your insurance carrier.
-Thanks to the ACA there are no longer caps limiting the amount that your insurance company has to pay for your illness during any given year.
-Thanks to the ACA you don’t lose your insurance coverage just because you lost your job.
-Thanks to the ACA if you are no longer forced to stay in your current job for fear of losing your health coverage. If you change jobs you can take your coverage with you.
-Thanks to the ACA, if your child cannot find a job that provides health insurance benefits, he/she can stay on your policy if necessary until they reach 26 years of age.
-Thanks to the ACA your insurance carrier must spend 80% of your health care premiums on actual health care benefits rather than bonuses or golden parachutes.
Republicans have obsessively channeled their efforts on repealing the law because they understood that once these popular benefits went into effect they were never going to be able to take them away from the American people. Now that the ACA is the law of the land Republicans can only hope to offer “fixes” to those aspects of the law that they find ideologically offensive.
Make no mistake the ACA needs fixing. It is a flawed attempt to provide health “care” for ALL through a free market system that is only interested in providing health “insurance” for the young and healthy. The ACA is interested in improving the quality of life for the public at large. The insurance industry is interested in making a profit for its shareholders. There are bound to be conflicts. Repeal is no longer a solution.
As we move through the next few months we expect that the ACA enrollment numbers will grow and along with them its popularity. Over time the flawed rollout will become yesterday’s news. There will continue to be “glitches” in the system that will be fixed as they occur. The ACA is here to stay.
Republicans have a choice. They can offer thoughtful, constructive options that maintain most of the ACA’s most popular components; a more “moderate” tone that would bode them well in the 2014 mid-terms. Or they can continue to criticize a program that a majority of voters view in a positive light; giving credence to their single digit approval ratings. They can govern and offer solutions. Or they can obstruct and offer nothing.
The “repeal” option is mercifully no longer on the table.