ACA 'rollout' bumpy, but the future is promising

October 22, 2013 

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear urges reason in the public reaction to the difficulties with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. He notes that in his state about 1,000 people a day are signing up for insurance, an indication that the ACA is not nearly as unpopular as Republicans want to think it is.

Indeed, in California and several other states the process for signing up has worked well. What Kentucky and California have in common is that they opted to run their own health care exchanges. But in most states in the South (read that: where the most vitriolic opponents of President Obama are) Republican governors and legislatures surrendered control of the exchanges through which uninsured people must buy insurance. Not interested, they said, not even if state-run exchanges would be able to offer people more choices, would likely be more efficient and would be more nimble at handling questions and problems.

Don’t care. Let the feds do it all. Now that’s nice public service for you.

Doubtless these Republicans also rubbed their hands together and figured that if there were problems with the exchanges, people would turn against the health care program and against the president who instigated it. In other words, by shirking their duty, as the GOP leadership in North Carolina did, they can score some political points.

What a dreadful line of reasoning. They’re prepared to let the people they’re supposed to represent experience more complicated steps in getting health care in the name of making the president look bad.

For his part, the president rightly stepped up and expressed his own frustrations with the computer problems created by an overloadon federally run exchanges. He said some of the top “tech people” from around the country are tackling the problem. The president didn’t try to shift the blame. He acknowledged the problem and promised to see that it is fixed.

And he defended the Affordable Care Act as more than a computer process, which it is. (Already, parents have been able to keep their children on their insurance until age 26, a help to young working people, and children with pre-existing conditions have been allowed to be covered by insurance they previously were denied. Those are developments that happened because of health care reform.) In addition, 20 million people have gone to the website and half a million have signed up for insurance.

States such as North Carolina that rejected a state-run exchange have to shoulder at least some of the blame for the rollout problems. The state would have gotten millions of dollars to help it with the exchange and could have shaped it to suit this state.

But make no mistake. The motivation for Republican opposition to health care reform, though it was passed by Congress and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, is transparent.

The whole government shutdown and holdout on a routine raising of the nation’s debt ceiling was about Republican attempts to “defund” the advancement of the Affordable Care Act. They didn’t like the law from the beginning, and they knew they couldn’t pass legislation fair and square to undo it. So they put the nation’s very financial foundation at risk to repudiate President Obama any way they could.

No wonder, then, they’re cheering the difficulties with the initial phase of reform and signing people up for insurance. They fear, of course, that once reform is in place and running smoothly, they will never be able to do away with it.

Why? Because it will work and people will like it and wonder why it took so long to put something as sensible as the Affordable Care Act into place.

How sad that the people’s representatives in Washington would pull against something that could help and perhaps even save the lives of millions of Americans. If the opponents of reform can’t explain that beyond just partisan politics, they will one day have to explain it to history.

As Kentucky Gov. Beshear predicted, "Most of these critics are going to end up with egg on their face. People are finding that ‘I can get health insurance for the first time in my life that I can afford.’ They’re going to look back at these folks after all the dust settles and say, ‘You misled us.’ ”

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