As the country takes time to rightfully spank President Obama for lying about the Affordable Care Act; as Republicans celebrate their ability to scream, “I told you so,” in predicting the failure of Obamacare — at least the failure of its rollout — we can’t help but wonder if Washington might be missing something significant.
Millions of Americans continue to go without health insurance and the cost of medical care continues to rise.
Granted, the pace of inflation for health care between 2009 and 2011 is the slowest since record-keeping on this topic began in the 1960s, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But that statistic should provide little comfort to the millions who are the actual targets of the Affordable Care Act: those without health insurance.
While the initial numbers of people who actually signed up for insurance under Obamacare are low, we suspect they might be nonexistent for the bulk of those who didn’t have health insurance in the first place because they couldn’t afford the premiums.
Indeed, the national outcry that sent Obama’s credibility as president into a tailspin had to do with those who could already afford to buy personal health insurance policies, but had theirs canceled because the policies did not meet minimum standards mandated by Obamacare.
That’s to say, the working poor in this country — and we know many of those in the Rio Grande Valley — would likely still have had no health insurance even if the rollout of Obamacare had been flawless. That’s because any premium for healthcare insurance becomes a choice between insurance and food, or shelter, or clothing.
That is the real tragedy of all the heated rhetoric that we see coming out of Washington or all the social rhetoric we may be engaging in on such venues as Facebook and Twitter: so much energy is going into the blame game, so much focus is placed on the political winners and losers of this policy decision that little thought is being given to those vulnerable Americans who are in the greatest need of healthcare insurance.
In places such as Texas, where state leaders have steadfastly refused to take advantage of components of Obamacare by increasing the pool of Medicaid recipients, Republicans are just as culpable as Democrats in the failure of Obamacare.
And while Republicans may view that a political failure of Obamacare as a victory, the failure to which we refer is the failure to everyday Americans.
In March, 2010, when President Obama signed this massive legislation into law, there was a significant national problem with the cost of health insurance and the ability of millions of Americans to afford those costs.
Three years and many impassioned debates later, there remains a national problem with the cost of health insurance and the ability of millions of Americans to afford those costs.
And before critics lay blame to Obamacare as one of the worst pieces of legislation in humankind, we continue to ask: what is a better alternative? If Obamacare isn’t the solution, what is? If opponents of this law feel compelled to vote 46 times for its repeal, then can’t opponents float a single time a fix to our national healthcare crisis?
So we say, yes, Obama and Democrats should take their lumps for an abysmal start to Obamacare and Republicans should take their victory laps. But then both parties should get serious about seeking a solution to the nation’s ongoing crisis in providing affordable health care.
Daily editorials reflect the majority opinion of The Monitor’s editorial board.