New Castle News


April 8, 2014

Our Opinion: Health program hits signup mark, but questions linger

NEW CASTLE — So what are we to make of the latest news regarding Obamacare?

The Obama administration says more than 7 million people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, slightly surpassing early expectations.

This despite an atrocious rollout for the system, where a glitch-filled website frustrated those looking for information about insurance.

Not surprisingly, the administration is touting the signups as evidence of the program’s success.

And indeed, a Gallup Poll released yesterday showed a slight uptick in the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance. This reverses a years-long decline in such coverage. It would appear that Obamacare is having the impact its advocates claimed.

Not so fast, say the critics who remain steadfast in their opposition to the program. They question whether all the people who signed up for health insurance under the open enrollment setup will actually pay for it.

That’s always a concern. Regardless of the product, some people simply don’t follow through with their purchase commitments.

Over time, we also will see the ratio of older and younger people in the program. From the standpoint of insurance pooling, a significant percentage of younger people need to be part of Obamacare for the numbers to crunch appropriately.

So despite Obamacare defenders and attackers, it remains a work in progress. Declaring it an unmitigated success or failure is premature at best.

But we think it’s safe to say that Obamacare is not going away. Despite ongoing Republican efforts to undo it — or at least to make a show of undoing it — each passing day embeds Obamacare more deeply into the nation’s health system.

The first solid GOP chance to repeal Obamacare won’t be until early 2017 — and that’s only if Republicans capture both the House and Senate, as well as the presidency in 2016. More than a few lawmakers badmouthing Obamacare today will have a hard time telling Americans that the varied benefits they enjoy under the program will be eliminated.

Much has been made in GOP circles of shifting deadlines and other changes under Obamacare. But it’s not unusual for new and sweeping programs to undergo adjustments.

What’s different with Obamacare is the abject unwillingness of the two parties to get together and craft those adjustments in meaningful ways. The political decision has been made to use Obamacare as a campaign tool, rather than a public program.

We expect that in the coming years, more Americans will sign on to Obamacare. The responsible thing for Washington politicians to do is to make sure it serves them effectively and efficiently. It’s here to stay.

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