The Rush to Judge Obamacare

Republicans can't say the health care law is a failure before people are even given a chance to successfully sign up.

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A broken website isn't a broken health care system. 

Today, the president speaks at Fanueil Hall, Boston, the city I was born, bred and raised in. The president will be speaking about the health care law, but rather than discuss the glitches, he'll emphasize history, using Massachusett's very own health care reform act which was signed into law by then Republican Gov. Mitt Romney.

The Massachusetts health care system was slow at first for those uninsured enrollees and at the last minute, a flood of signed up. And the president, as well as his administration, are pretty certain the same will happen with the Affordable Care Act. 

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

So for Republicans to say the program has failed because the website crashed, just as Twitter's has due to high volume, or to say it has failed because there aren't the numbers the Obama administration wants, expects and technically needs for this program to succeed ... well, that just isn't fair. No one should be asking numbers until April 1, at least. Then the two deadlines currently set for open enrollment will have passed. Then people will have the option to sign up online, via phone or in person and will be aware of all of their options to do  so.

The millions of people who went to the site when it first opened weren't bored on a Friday night with nothing better to do – "Hey honey, let's open a bottle of pinot and hop on the HealthCare.Gov website for fun!" Those people were looking at their options. 

And they're many. In New York state, most who go to the site have at least 50 different plans to choose from. And in New York, as in 13 other states, they have their own state website to go to rather than the HealthCare.Gov site. 

So seeing as 36 states rely on the federal site, the majority of our 50 states, it could be argued that the majority of people who want to sign up currently cannot sign up ... at least online. So any numbers quoted with regard to enrollment right now just won't be accurate.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

And speaking of accuracy, I am hearing a lot of sound bites about people "being kicked off their insurance," but that is not entirely true. I own two companies and have two healthcare plans: one for my employees and one for my family through my husband's company. Both are Blue Cross. Everyday in the mail, I get information from Blue Cross such as: a) about the refund I'll be receiving because Blue Cross was not spending the percentage it should have on medical services. Thank you Obamacare. b) about the nearly $600 I can save with a new plan they're offering. Thank you Obamacare. c) About how my plan is "changing" and will be newly named, to comply with the new legislation. So I will have more services covered, not less. Thank you Obamacare. 

And for those who say they cannot keep their doctor? Bull. Doctors add themselves to and take themselves off of plans quite frequently. Whenever Medicare cuts reimbursements, thousands of doctors will stop accepting Medicare patients. When private insurance companies do not adjust fee schedules or renew doctors' contracts, they will go "out of network" and you pay more out of your own pocket. Sometimes the doctor gets cash from you and provides the forms for you to give to your insurance company for reimbursements.

So technically, you can always keep your doctor, if they choose to keep your plan. And as more and more Americans sign onto Obamacare, I predict so will more and more doctors; they will sign on to accept one of the many plans offered, if they're not on those plans already. For  doctors, patient flow means cash flow and they're not going to sit back and let a competitor partake of millions of soon to be insured patients who were formerly uninsured.

[Vote: Who's to Blame for the Obamacare Glitches?]

So as I have said on radio, TV, in conversations with my anti-Obamacare friends and my husband's medical colleagues: Wait.  Medicare part D was ridiculed and attacked by my fellow Democrats. Now that plan is a success. Medicare and Social Security were slated to fail. Ask our ever growing senior population who among them would like to give their Medicare or Social Security back to Uncle Sam.

The Affordable Care Act is not just about  a website and not just about health care; it's also about changing the way we do things in America with regard to our health. Prevention, health maintenance and using the emergency room for actual emergencies. This will improve the overall health of our nation, physically, financially and mentally, if only we give it the time any new system needs to operate.

So wait. Let the website be repaired. Let the people sign up, and let them experience what it's like to be insured, to have these options. Then we can ask if they like it, if it's saved them money, and oh, of course, how many people signed up.

Asking those questions now is like asking someone on their honeymoon how a marriage is going. It's too soon to tell.

  • Read Jamie Chandler: The Administration Must Report Obamacare Enrollment Numbers
  • Read Peter Roff: Obama's War on Coal Runs Counter to Global Energy Trends
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