The Spokesman-Review

Opinion

Smart Bombs: Voters support ACA, denounce Obamacare

If you haven’t seen the “Jimmy Kimmel Show” video in which people are asked whether they prefer Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, search for it, and watch. I’ll wait.

OK, now wasn’t that instructive? When asked which plan they preferred, people denounced Obamacare and supported the Affordable Care Act. Sure sheds a light on how the clueless form opinions. Pure tribalism.

“So, who do you like in the World Series? St. Louis or the Cardinals?”

“Not a fan of the Catholics, so I’m rooting for St. Louis.”

“Well, actually, the cardinal is a red bird, and the city was named for a Catholic saint.”

“In that case, go Cardinals!”

No turning back. I’m about to do something that’s rare in politics these days: Hold two thoughts in my head at the same time, with one of them being at tension with the other. I considered upping the ante by tying both hands behind my back, but that made typing difficult.

In any event, here it goes:

There is absolutely no excuse for the botched rollout of Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act, for that matter). Nevertheless, the law should not be repealed.

I realize some of you must be thunderstruck. I mean, how can a person criticize something they support? Crazy, I know, but it’s how I feel. Maybe it comes from being a parent. Maybe it comes from insanity. Maybe that’s redundant.

If some of you beneficiaries of Medicare Part D searched your memories, you’d empathize. Remember that rollout? Balky website, maddening bureaucracy and tears at the pharmacy. As Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at the time, “The implementation has been horrendous.”

But, because Republicans and Democrats rowed in the same direction, the program eventually got on course.

(The free pass for Medicare Part D is strange, especially coming from alleged deficit hawks. Rather than devise a way to widen access to health care for the uninsured, Congress and the president in 2003 thought the bigger issue was expanding a government benefit for those already covered. The kicker is that it wasn’t paid for, but Obamacare is. Oh, and that “doughnut hole” that causes coverage to lapse and seniors to pick up the full price of drugs before coverage kicks in again? It’s shrinking, and will be closed by 2020 – that is, if Obamacare isn’t repealed).

Now for you creative defenders of the Obamacare rollout, give it up. It’s not a matter of millions of people logging on at once, signaling massive popularity. It’s a mandate. People have to buy it. Besides, Healthcare.gov is so rickety, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could’ve been the sole person to try it (say, there’s an idea!) and she might’ve been stymied. The technological mess is extensive and could take weeks to resolve. So stop with the excuses.

Nevertheless, we can’t go back. The United States leads the modern world in the percentage of people without coverage, and we’re last among the 16 richest nations in heading off preventable deaths. Those figures are connected, and they add up to something that’s far more unacceptable than the rollout blues.

Walk the talk. It was disappointing to learn that Mayor David Condon defended those TV attack ads in the City Council races as nothing unusual. It seems 99 percent of the candidates we interview want to end “politics as usual.”

I suppose in this regard, he stands out.

Perhaps those who said they wanted to lift public service out of this rut could speak up now. Hate to think they were just feeding us a line.

That would be politics as usual.

Associate Editor Gary Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5026. Follow him on Twitter @GaryCrooks.


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