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Did you see Deval Patrick on Meet the Press Sunday? He followed Mitt Romney — as Governor of Massachusetts and then again on Sunday’s broadcast — and he made (I thought) a lot more sense.
Mitt stressed what he called “fundamental dishonesty,” going on to say, “I think the key thing that the president is trying to get away from is that he told people they could keep their insurance, and that was not the truth. And whether you like the model of Obamacare or not, the fact that the president sold it on a basis that was not true has undermined the foundation of his second term. I think it’s rotting it away.”
Watch Governor Patrick respond to that, and to David Gregory’s other questions. in under three minutes. You will feel better about this.
There’s no question that the website needs to be fixed. (The Republicans are not entirely blameless, as argued below.) And there’s no question that, in hindsight, it would have been better for the President to say something like . . . “If you like your current plan, then in almost every case, you’ll be able to keep it. And if you ARE among the 5% or so who will be forced into a plan with better benefits than they have now, the good news is that you may well pay less for it. Even though it provides better coverage. Not such an awful thing. Some among that 5% will have to pay more for better coverage. And they may not be happy about it. I get that, and I don’t take it lightly; but as a nation, we have so much to gain here for the health of our citizenry and the health of our economy, we have to ask them to do it anyway.”
He might have continued . . . “The same goes for the currently uninsured, who are free riders when they show up at the emergency room after a car crash or about to give birth. They may prefer not to contribute to the health care system, but we need them to do it anyway, either by buying coverage or paying a fine.”
Needless to say, the Republicans are no more focused on the 95% or 98% who will be better off under Obamacare, now that they are out of power, than they were focused — when for six years they controlled the White House, House and Senate — on the tens of millions with no coverage at all. Or the tens of millions more with coverage that left them exposed to financial ruin in the event of a serious illness.
THE DEBACLE HAD A LITTLE HELP
Indeed, Obamacare — in its earlier incarnation as Romneycare — is working fine in Massachusetts. And there’s reason to be optimistic about the roll-out in the states that designed their own exchanges.
Gerald M.: “You asked to be informed about my wife’s experience with enrolling in a new insurance plan under the ACA. Last week she obtained a gold level plan through the New York exchange. Enrollment was fast and easy. The new plan (with no subsidies) will have comparable out-of-pocket expenses to her prior plan and will now cost $6,276/year compared to $18,439 under the old plan, a savings of $12,163/year. Needless to say we are thrilled.”
But most of the Republican-controlled states chose not to design their own exchanges, leaving the job to the Feds and hoping they would fail.
Although the [Affordable Care Act] provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange — and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.
“So,” writes Capehart, “the federal exchange that Republicans said wouldn’t work ended up not working because it was starved of the money needed to help make it work.”
This doesn’t excuse the rocky start to the roll out. But one might be forgiven for thinking it spreads the blame.
Where in Massachusetts people from both parties worked to make their new system work, with Obamacare one party has been doing everything it can, from the start — even to the point of shutting down the federal government — to gum up the works.
Even the Massachusetts roll-out took a while to get right, but it did succeed. So will Obamacare; though it would succeed faster if people on the other side stopped trying so hard to make it fail.
Watch Deval Patrick. He said it better than I have.
Quote of the Day
I do count my blessings, but then I end up counting those of others who have more and better blessings, and that pisses me off.~Bob Mankoff New Yorker cartoon caption
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