New Castle News

July 12, 2013

Our Opinion: Administration puts brakes on key health provisions

By Staff
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — If you thought the controversy over health care reform would fade over time, you were wrong.

Yes, Republicans are still doing everything they can to emphasize their opposition to what has been dubbed Obamacare. But right now, it is the president and his administration that are giving critics legitimate reason to complain.

Last week, the Obama administration decided to delay implementation of one aspect of the reform measure that required employers with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance.

And this week, the administration announced delays in a program intended to penalize smokers with higher health insurance premiums. It seems to be part of a pattern of delays involving key aspects of health care reform.

The administration says the moves are necessary because of complexities with the law and to ensure it is properly implemented. Foes are quick to declare that it’s because the massive measure is impractical and delays will prevent implementation of unpopular parts until after the 2014 congressional elections.

Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for delays in another major provision of the program, one that requires virtually all individuals to have some form of insurance. If they don’t have it through an employer, they have to obtain it on their own. Programs are being set up to provide subsidies or assist these individuals with their coverage.

GOP lawmakers say that if businesses are getting a break, so too should individuals.

There are a few points to make here. We count ourselves among those who want any health care reforms to work effectively — or at least as effectively as possible.

If that means delays in some circumstances, so be it. This is a complicated measure and it shouldn’t go into place under artificial deadlines if the timing isn’t practical.

That said, we think the administration continues to do a horrible job explaining itself and what it is trying to accomplish with health care reform. Delays of major provisions serve only to compound the confusion. At the very least, they create the impression health reform wasn’t ready for prime time.

And while we would support alternatives that focused on cost controls, we’re not seeing that from Republicans. Instead, the House GOP simply opts to hold repeated votes to overturn Obamacare. That may play well in some ideological circles, but it’s not leadership on a crucial public issue.

Many of the major provisions of health care reform — including those now being delayed — are intended to create fairness and equity when it comes to paying for health insurance, as well as making individuals more accountable for their role in the process. Whether or not it will work is still unclear.

But we do know the public needs to have some confidence in the whole process if it’s to have credibility. So far, that’s not happening.