Reforming the healthcare reform debate

The most painful part of today’s passage of a bill that will allow people to keep their health insurance plans–regardless of whether they meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act–isn’t watching President Obama capitulate to more Republican pressure. It’s listening to everyone complain about it.

Obama was wrong to say that people could keep their plans in all circumstances but this, along with the constant criticism of Healthcare.gov, is getting out of hand.

The President should have been clearer about the law, and the people handling its rollout should have made sure the website worked. They didn’t. It’s not that big of a deal.

People like to point to the constant political strife in Washington as the nexus of this country’s problems, but the strife runs much deeper than that.

The Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is a very middle-of-the-road policy, which is why no one likes it. Liberals don’t like it because it’s not a single-payer system. Conservatives don’t like it because Obama created it.

Everyone else seems to be disgruntled because it requires them to change policies or pay more money. Never mind that they’re getting more coverage.

“Healthcare reform” means just that. It’s about providing access to healthcare for the maximum number of people, and implies no guarantee that certain people won’t be inconvenienced by a change of the status quo.

That big-picture reality applies to people’s ideas about healthcare reform as well.

Many liberals decry Obama for not enacting a single-payer system, and instead delivering millions of customers to the insurance companies. But where were these people when the Affordable Care Act was being drafted?

Did they stare down conservative opponents of the law, or just criticize the President for not doing what they wanted?

Two years after the passage of Obamacare, people are still complaining about the lack of a single-payer system. Yes, that would be fantastic. But the time to advocate for it was when the law was being drafted.

The biggest problem with Obamacare may just be that it is the President’s signature domestic policy. It makes it too easy for people to criticize the man and abandon the policy in the process.

Supporters of healthcare reform need to be for healthcare reform, not their own specific idea of healthcare reform. They need to stop throwing their hands up and shaking their heads every time a setback occurs. The ship will never get anywhere if everyone jumps off.

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  1. #1 by Patrick Hanlon on November 15, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    It’s hard to support a policy that Obama himself has wavering support for. I agree with you totally that the Healthcare.gov, issues, and junk plans being scrapped, despite the President saying otherwise really aren’t that big of a deal. The Obama administration is making it a big deal by apologizing for the website and delaying the implementation of this part of the ACA by another year.The people who hate “Obamacare” are not going to be placated by this concession, it solves nothing, it simply undermines the people who argued passionately for the ACA in the first place. I would much rather see him come out and make the same argument you just did..that these glitches and inconveniences are so minor next to the goal of universal coverage. I can’t speak for everybody in my camp, but I don’t think Obama has ever been much of a progressive, and I’ve argued as such since the ACA debate began years ago.

  2. #2 by lib1187 on November 26, 2013 - 11:44 pm

    Obama is definitely less progressive than a lot of people assume, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t committed to healthcare reform. After all, even Nixon supported it. The point is that, while Obama’s persistent pandering to critics is frustrating, the real focus of ire should be on the elements who insist on picking apart the ACA and using every possible excuse to declare it a dead letter. It’s disappointing that Obama doesn’t appear as strong as we want him, but turning on him won’t help matters.

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