ACA–Still Causing Political Pain
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Despite exhibiting an incredibly low level of legislative leadership, four years ago the Obama Administration successful watched as Congress passed the most dramatic and vital piece of domestic legislation in decades, the Affordable Health Care Act.
Despite having over three years to develop the proper rules and regulations to make the ACA operate like a Swiss watch, the Obama Administration presided over one of the most inept start-ups of a major piece of legislation ever seen in Washington.
Despite numerous concessions, postponements, and re-scheduling of various components of the law, the Obama Administration appears to be able to show that only somewhat over 6 million people will have registered for the ACA in its first sign-up phase.
Despite having passed the ACA without a single Republican vote in the U.S. Senate, the Obama White House now finds Members of the President’s own party begging for changes and reforms in the very law which they supported and which may well bring them down to defeat in their bids for re-election in November.
Make no mistake, millions of Americans already have benefitted greatly from this law. The poor, the elderly, the young, young adults, uninsured, etc., have obtained significant benefits from the law; but so much more could have been achieved. The issue is that it is not exclusively because Tea Party members and Republican conservatives were totally unwilling to work to adjust and remedy mistakes in the law, as historically always had been the way any legislation—especially major, complicated laws like the ACA—was fixed. It was at least as much because of a truly inept roll out of the law by an Administration that simply was inexcusably unprepared to implement the law. Mistakes in the law needed to be fixed and changes and tinkering done, but it never should have come to this level ineptitude; both substantively and politically.
The tragedy for healthcare in America could occur if the drum-beat for repeal brings the Republicans back into control of the Senate after the November off-year elections; followed by two years of veto-mania; and the GOP reclaiming the White House in 2016.It is not the issue of the natural pendulum swings of political control in Washington, but what the consequences will be to a genuinely courageous effort to radically change the healthcare system in America,
Sometimes, it must be great for the President to be out of the country fighting the big Russian bear and not needing to be immediately enmeshed in the ugliness being thrown at him from all sides this week in Washington as the March 31 deadline for the ACA signup approaches.