Today the Affordable Care Act became official. States opened enrollment on exchanges for private insurance, with coverage slated to effectively begin January 1. It’s done, it’s real, it happened — even with our government temporarily shuttered.
In case you forgot: the Affordable Care Act was passed by the House and Senate, was signed into law, was challenged by the Supreme Court, then upheld by the Supreme Court.
You may not like ObamaCare, but you don’t get to use the economy as a bargaining chip whenever you disagree with the law, and you don’t get to decry the pitfalls of democracy only when it produces something you don’t like. It makes you sound like a baby.
Of course, there were Republicans who nonetheless worked to repeal ObamaCare up until the last minute, going as far as to hold our economy hostage in an attempt to defund the bill as Congress wheeled out budget negotiations.
September was marked by impotent bluster, desperate delay tactics and every petulant act imaginable short of kicking and screaming as politicians backed by Tea Party extremists suggested delaying the bill for a year, or removing ObamaCare’s tax on medical devices, or adding members of Congress to the Act, or allowing employers the ability to opt out of contraception coverage if said service clashed with business owners’ “beliefs.”
A surreal, 21-hour pseudo-filibuster by Ted Cruz (R-TX) aptly exemplified the sort of Kabuki Theater that unfolded throughout this embarrassing process, as we soon discovered that Republicans were willing to tank the economy and bring the government to shutdown simply to get their way. In the process, they also managed to mar their already-decimated reputations to nigh irreparable lengths, even as Congressional elections loom next year.
Act has its flaws
It needs to be said: the Affordable Care Act is far from perfect; some of the criticisms surrounding it are spot-on. Poll after poll shows many Americans don’t like the individual mandate portion of the bill. Many of the exchanges deceptively appear to offer more than what people will surely receive. A spat of preliminary polls predict a disappointing number of people will sign up for the exchanges at all.
But perhaps the most legitimate quip: many business owners will undoubtedly cut hours and increase layoffs to skimp on paying for employee insurance. Non-insured Americans who work fewer than 30 hours a week would be burdened with the responsibility of purchasing healthcare or face a tax penalty. In other words, ObamaCare could potentially hurt some of the same people it purports to help.
The Affordable Care Act is essentially designed for people who don’t have insurance (and to a smaller degree, those who already buy insurance on their own).
About 85% of us currently insured will not have our plans altered as a result of its passage. However, when considering who will benefit most from the bill, the notion that ObamaCare will provide coverage for millions who currently have no insurance makes it a win.
Then there’s the fact that people can stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26, that many will qualify for financial assistance if they have to buy insurance on their own, and that after these subsidies it’s expected most will not be affected by premium increases and will pay less through the exchanges than what they’d pay for insurance currently.
Finally, there’s the feature that has received the most fanfare: ObamaCare prohibits providers from turning people down for a preexisting condition, or for their gender. For some, the plan will even provide mental health, maternity leave, or prescription drugs. This should have happened a long time ago.
One thing’s for sure: passing a bill and signing it into law, debating its constitutionality in the highest court in the land, no longer guarantees life after budget talks. As we’ve seen during the last two years however, holding the economy hostage to appease fringe elements within your party is now standard procedure. This practice really needs to be addressed — because it’s insane.
We’ve been grappling with major healthcare reform for 50 years now. We need to move on, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like this will happen anytime soon.
Some states have refused to implement the Act’s Medicaid expansion, and at least one Tea Party group is now running a series of ads suggesting people break the law and forego buying insurance. It petitions the obvious at this point to say this is a giant waste of time.
If the Affordable Care Act is truly as unsustainable as some Republicans purport it to be, they should let it run its course and implode, let it fail, where it would then be repealed and replaced with whatever private-sector utopias Republicans love to envision.
In the meantime, this is what we have, this is what we get, this is what we’re dealing with. Get over it.