Vail Daily column: Chess, not checkers, with Obamacare
October 6, 2013
Washington is in the midst of another budget confrontation with both sides firmly entrenched. The issue at stake is the implementation of Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is the president's signature legislation, and with the Senate firmly in his corner and the Supreme Court's judicial blessing, the House stands alone — despite the efforts of Sen. Ted Cruz.
Healthcare reform has been of concern for decades, yet no one wanted to touch it because no matter what you did, someone would suffer; there are no free lunches. So, to this president's credit, he decided to pass something rather than pass the buck. However, understanding that if anyone actually read the details, it would never get passed, even by Democrats, we ended up with Pelosi saying, "We must pass it to see what's in it". Of course, making it 20,000-plus pages, filled with technicalities and contradictions, and scheduling an impossible deadline for passage, assured the president that it most certainly would not get read. Yet, those who signed on would feel obligated to defend it or lose credibility. Those opposed must fight it or lose credibility. Thus, we are in gridlock. Welcome to Washington.
We can debate the pros and cons of Obamacare forever since no one fully understands what's in it, but until implementation, it will all just seem like partisan political rhetoric. One thing is certain, the president's claim, "If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your healthcare plan, you will be able to keep your healthcare plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what," is not quite accurate; ask any Union leader or exempted organization. With hopeful anticipation, the nation awaits this nirvana of healthcare. However, like anything that seems too good to be true, there are often hidden consequences, such as the hit the economy will take on many levels, including the impact of a reduced work week on the family budget.
With control of only one-half of one branch of government, conservative opposition begins to look like a paper tiger. Yet, the Republicans that decided to stage this unwinnable filibuster, and still hold out for an unlikely dialogue on its implementation, are doing so to raise awareness to the potential consequences of its implementation, and the best way to get anyone's attention is via the wallet. While many consider this to be an unwise move, with subsequent fiscal consequences surely to be blamed on Republicans to the potential detriment of 2014 and beyond, these Republicans are attempting to raise awareness of the negative effects of this piece of legislation that extends well beyond just healthcare.
According to sources who are reviewing the new medical plan, a few things have surfaced, but there are some questions as to the current status and interpretation of these provisions. Pages 241 and 253: Doctors will all be paid the same regardless of specialty, and the government will set all doctors' fees. Pages 317 and 321: The government will impose a prohibition on hospital expansion unless communities petition for an exception. Page 272, Section 1145: Cancer hospitals may begin rationing care according to a variety of criteria, including the patient's age (those over 75 may not be eligible for cancer treatments). Page 425, Line 4-12: The government mandates advance-care planning consultations. Those on Social Security will be required to attend an "end-of-life planning" seminar every five years (death counseling). Page 429, Line 13-25: The government will specify which doctors can write an "end of life" order.
"Be careful what you wish for" should be the Republican strategy. Give supporters exactly what they voted for in 2008 and reaffirmed in 2012. Despite all warnings to the contrary, supporters will remain non-believers until they feel it in their pockets, or are rejected for a desired medical procedure, or must supplement reduced work hours with a second job. They will quickly discover that the Affordable Care Act is neither affordable nor very caring.
Principles mean something. If you give your word, your honor is at stake to live up to it, even when it becomes increasingly difficult to do so; that is character. Republicans who were elected and expected to defeat Obamacare owe it to their constituents to abide by their platform. While in a minority status, the honorable thing to do is to exhibit patience and allow things to unfold naturally. The reality of this new healthcare plan will benefit Republicans in ways that they could never have imagined, as millions of Americans will want to bring back their ability to "keep your healthcare plan, period."
Conservatives currently taking a stand will continue to live up to their principles by keeping their eye on the ball of victory in 2014, where redirecting their strategy will allow them to retain the House while regaining the Senate, making the defeat or at least the restructuring of Obamacare a reality. Although it shouldn't be, Capitol Hill has become a war zone — a battle for the economy, freedom, and the independence of individuals to continue their pursuit of the American Dream. Small businesses, the backbone of the middle class, will have restraints lifted that allow them to flourish according to the marketplace of their communities and expand the local job base. Individuals will regain control of their income, privacy and personal health issues. And, our country will once again prosper under the foundation of freedom, independence and a free market economy.
While there are those who challenge the idea of American exceptionalism, we live it. And, in the pursuit of our ideals, we must sometimes concede an occasional battle to ultimately win the war. Think chess, not checkers.
Jacqueline Cartier, who has more than 25 years of political communications experience and is the president and CEO of Winning Images, recently moved back to Eagle-Vail from Washington, D.C. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 202-271-4165. Visit her website at http://www.cartier winningimages.com.