If the Affordable Care Act’s website is not functioning well by the eve of Dec. 1, those who abhor that law will say “told you so – it’s a train wreck.”
But whoa! The train has barely left the station. A derailment is not inevitable, much as the law’s opponents would like to think so. They gloat, they salivate, they applaud at every ObamaCare glitch that comes down the track.
But, at this point, those who hated ObamaCare from the very beginning, since its passage in 2010, do have some new ammunition in their arsenal. Yes, the website rollout was an unmitigated disaster. Why the president and his staff did not demand testing of that website beforehand is inexcusable since it is the very key to the program’s success. As if that weren’t bad enough, insurance cancellations began, countering the president’s repeated reassurances that people who have and like their insurance can keep that insurance when the ACA begins. Issues of bad planning, incompetence and the credibility of the president have surfaced. It’s understandable the doubters – including some doubting Democrats – have new questions and second thoughts.
The president, during an awkward press conference last week, admitted his mistakes and apologized, saying it’s incumbent upon him to regain the trust of the American people.
Before we give ObamaCare its last rites, let’s remind ourselves of the pluses that have already happened: insurance companies barred from refusing people with pre-existing conditions; allowing children to stay on parents’ polices until they are 26; policies required to include – at the very minimum – such benefits as preventive care, maternity care; prohibitions against gender discrimination; and no annual or lifetime dollar limits.
Another huge plus of the ACA is an expansion of Medicaid to states from the federal government now covers millions more people living at the poverty level. Some states led by Republican governors, refused to accept the Medicaid expansion, thus cutting off their noses to spite their faces and leaving millions of their citizens without access to care.
One reason for recent insurance-policy cancellations is they do not meet the standards required by ObamaCare as listed above. Another reason is health-insurance companies have long been known to cancel policies at any time and to raise rates often, with annual increases amounting to 14-20 percent.
The ACA is one of the most ambitious programs ever launched in this nation. As such, like Social Security and Medicare, it’s bound to go through its birth pains, just as RomneyCare, on which ObamaCare was based, had its share of early glitches in Massachusetts.
The hurdles are not over. One hurdle is how many young and healthier people will enroll in plans through the insurance-exchange markets? That could ultimately make or break the program.
The bleak alternative to ObamaCare is this: Up to 40 million Americans will remain unable to afford insurance, and the rest of us will have to pay for their emergency care, indirectly, through increased hospital costs, increased insurance premiums and increased taxes. ACA detractors claim ObamaCare itself will cause –not solve – those bad outcomes.
Instead of licking their chops about a “train wreck,” ObamaCare opponents should get on track to help people buy affordable insurance. We should be hoping the ACA succeeds instead of longing so eagerly for its demise.