The Village

  • Obamacare – The Problems with Progress

    Aug 15, 2013. Written by Bruce Ormond Grant

    President Barack Obama believed that all Americans should have quality and affordable healthcare, and as such, the President talked at length at times to the American public about his ideas to make this belief a reality. Consequently, after years of rigorous work, intense socio-political debates and a call to America to see our higher purposes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March, 2010. As this Federal Statute was signed into law by the sitting President of The United States of America, the statute was tersely coined “Obamacare.”

    For the roughly 50 Million uninsured and vulnerable Americans, this federal statute represented a shift in domestic policy, where the government finally took a look at the moral economy of the nation and acted on humanistic principals. For many of the detractors, the policy represented a long term rise in our debt – period. It also represented to many of the troubled detractors the idea of a shifting political landscape in this country, where it took the first sitting African-American President of this nation (the 44th) to sign such an historic act into law, where the previous non African-American Presidents could not, and did not (for a variety of reasons, notwithstanding).

    Obamacare has been under attack from the start, and the current delay issues have not made it easy for the proponents. Last month, the White House announced a delay in a provision of the law that required larger organizations/companies to offer health care coverage to full-time employees. Most recently, there has been another announced delay on another portion of the law – on a consumer protection that limited the out-of-pocket costs of a health care consumer. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 2012 that individual states could opt-out of the law’s Medicaid expansion, leaving the decision of a state to participate in the hands of the leadership of that respective state. While many of the Southern states have chosen not to opt-in to the Medicaid expansion of the law, these states have and house a high number of uninsured Americans. Obamacare has been the subject of repeal in the 111th, 112th and 113th sessions of Congress.

    Obamacare provides some strong provisions on behalf of the citizens of the United States of America, such as:

    – Consumers cannot be denied health insurance or be tasked with higher premiums due to a pre-existing condition.

    – Obamacare will expand Medicaid to many uninsured Americans (Over 20 states have opted-in to the law’s Medicaid expansion.

    – The law requires coverage of children’s dental care.

    – The law ultimately intends to increase the efficiencies of health care delivery systems, cut costs and increase the quality of care that every American receives in The United States of America.

    – If you have coverage and want to explore Marketplace plans, you can. But if you have an offer of insurance from an employer, you may not be able to get lower costs on Marketplace insurance based on your income. It depends on whether the insurance you’re offered is considered affordable and meets minimum standards.

    – Multiple enhanced consumer protections.

    There is an argument that posits that the question of a government’s capacity to implement its decisions is a significant consideration affecting the types of decisions it takes, and if this is indeed a plausible argument, there is high question around the resistance to Obamacare. First, the expansion of healthcare to a nation’s citizens is a noble and high act, and any nation that asserts its prerogatives in protecting women, children, the indigent and otherwise vulnerable has accessed its higher-order moral consciousness. Secondly, the legislative, judicial and executive branches would not have worked so diligently on this complex laws IF there were to be severe implementation issues which would invalidate the intents of the law.

    As policymakers move through the problem solving and policy cycle stages, they sometimes forget that their purposeful courses of action have real consequences outside of their constituencies, and that goal-oriented behavior on behalf of government should always intend to produce the most common-good. Obamacare should not be under attack for the delays in implementation, it should be lauded as the most significant moral achievement of this great nation. And yes, while many will concede that progress does come with a high price, many would plausibly argue that this high price for progress is one that we can afford – and should afford.

    On August 14, 2013, writing for the Washington Post, George F. Will in his piece entitled “Obama’s unconstitutional steps worse than Nixon’s,” stated that “President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency.” While Mr. Will made no bones about his coding and used his piece to construct a discussion around the constitutionality of President Obama’s recent actions around the health care law, his rhetoric made a very important point – for many, the issue with Obamacare IS President Obama himself.