Millions, perhaps billions, of dollars have been spent over the past 20 years trying to sell the public and members of Congress on a national health care plan.
In 2010, Congress passed a bill containing more than 950 pages, with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying there would be no way to find out what was in the bill until after it was passed and put into operation.
Now, the first stage of this process is about to kick in. Tuesday is the official start-up day or opening day for the insurance marketplaces, referred to as “exchanges.”
How many individuals sign up for the Obamacare plan between Tuesday and next January will, to a large degree, signal whether the plan is going to work or will prove to be unworkable, unacceptable and a fiscal nightmare.
There’s little question that the Affordable Care Act is the most important and highest priority piece of legislation for President Obama. This was designed to be his signature legislative achievement, the hallmark of his presidency, and he has poured every possible effort into jamming the act through Congress and, now, getting sufficient number of younger adults to commit to the plan.
Thousands of questionably trained and questionably informed “navigators” have been hired to blanket the country offering advice and selling the plan to those who are puzzled about whether they should sign up for the program.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans, including a high percentage of those serving as members of Congress, don’t know many details of the plan and how it could or would affect the lives of millions, the quality and breadth of their health care, the costs and the effects of greater federal control of health care. One of the deep concerns is why members of Congress and the administration are not required to sign up for the Obamacare program.
As more details of the ACA become known, growing numbers of major American companies are opting out of the plan, telling their employees to look elsewhere for health insurance. More and more employers are reducing the number of full-time employees, converting those who agree to part-time status (less than 30 hours a week). There also are growing numbers of stories of almost a bait-and-switch tactic being used to encourage younger people to sign up for plans that now have low premiums but high deductibles with little information about the higher costs of premiums as they grow older.
Current public opinion polls show the majority of Americans oppose the Obama plan, with this negative percentage growing week by week. Likewise, similar polls show the public’s approval rating for Obama dropping below the 50 percent level.
Members of Congress are engaged in an unusually mean-spirited battle with the majority of Democratic senators and House members fighting to keep Obama from being embarrassed by a defeat of his prized legislation thereby making his last two-plus years in the Oval Office a true and damaged “lame duck” period.
No one knows how many of these Democrats honestly think the Obamacare bill is fiscally sound, makes sense and is the right thing for the country or if they are in the trenches primarily to uphold the stature and reputation of their president.
Conversely, how many Republican senators and House members honestly think the legislation is bad for the country, bad for health care and bad for the public? Or is their primary goal to wound and defeat Obama and make those Democrats who supported the legislation more vulnerable when they seek re-election in 2014 or 2016?
To what extent have the lobbying efforts of major health insurance companies affected the health care debate? These companies want to protect their highly lucrative businesses and are willing to invest large sums of money to elect members of Congress who support their cause.
There is one known fact: The public, the consumer, doesn’t know much about the ACA and how it will impact their own lives, members of their families, those turning 26 years of age, employers, employees, doctors, insurance companies and the fiscal health of this country. Many also question whether the Obama health care plan is just the first of many massive federal takeovers Obama has in mind related to his initial pledge to make “fundamental changes” in America.
It’s a dangerous game, one that would seem far too important to endorse and commit to without far more knowledge and understanding of what an individual, or the country, is buying.
Should such action be based on a hunch, good intentions and trusting the honesty of partisan elected officials or should members of Congress take a step back, make a closer examination of the legislation and help the public have a better, more balanced idea of the pros, cons and consequences of the legislation.
As one prominent Democratic legislator said, the nation is heading for a massive train wreck with the adoption and implementation of Obamacare.
This should be sufficient warning. Plus the majority of Americans remain puzzled, confused, frustrated, mad and fed up. They really don’t know what’s right, and growing numbers believe they have been, and are being, hoodwinked and question whether their president and those who either support the president or oppose Obamacare are being honest with the public.
The Obama health care plan, supposedly designed to improve health care in the United States is itself not healthy. It needs and immediate and thorough examination.