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The Two Biggest Failures of the ACA

March 29, 2012

With this week’s happenings at the Supreme Court, everyone’s finally talking about the Affordable Care Act again. And that is failure #1.  What do I mean? I mean the near silence from the White House and Democrats in Congress following the passage of the ACA was nothing but fail.

Following the circus that was the “health care debate”, it’s not surprising that Democrats wanted to relax for a while, unwind, and get moving on the next big thing. The problem is that doing so did them no favors. The partisan rancor and out-right GOP lies left floating around after the bill was signed never went away – it just settled in. Instead, Democrats and the Obama administration desperately hoped believed that the bill would magically become more popular as people learned more about it.

Two things: 1) when the law won’t be implemented until the middle of your (hopeful) second term, that’s a problem; and 2) for people to learn about the law, you have to talk about the law.  And that is something that no one on the Democratic side of the aisle was willing to do. After all, it was very unpopular, thanks to all the right-wing disinformation out there – and Congress had reelections to worry about! Of course, the White House just wanted to move on.

Maybe the court wins along the way to the Supreme Court gave them an unwarranted sense of confidence. I don’t know. What I do know is that people can just tell when you want to avoid talking about something – and then they suspect the worst.

Another thing I know, is that when two-thirds of those with a negative opinion of health care reform do so because they mistakenly believe they will be forced to lose their current employer-based insurance and be forced to buy private insurance which they cannot afford – you’re doing it wrong.

Failure #2: We don’t yet know how the SCOTUS will rule on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, or what the law may look like when this case is finalized. But here’s a thought: wouldn’t it have been a good idea to inoculate the law against the very attack it now faces at the court?

The heart of the conservative court case against the individual mandate is that the Federal government is forcing people to purchase a privately sold product. If the ACA included a public option (in other words, an option to purchase from a public, rather than private, entity) this argument would be moot.

Hey! Remember when President Obama, instead of fighting for a public option through reconciliation, decided the public option wasn’t really necessary? Well, seems it was after all.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2012 2:34 pm

    A Full employment act requiring the government to provide a job for everyone able to work that wants to work at a living wage or better. At safe, meaningful work where they live. Guaranteed by the US government. With free or very affordable excellent healthcare and free or very affordable education and training for advancement or just personal enrichment.

    Honestly Jack, this describes a utopia that will never come to pass. Even FDR did not promise a job for everyone able to work. No government can make that promise in a free market system capitalist system.

    I appreciate the notion, but if that’s the starting point for how to move forward, we’ll never get off square one.

  2. March 30, 2012 9:18 am

    Sandi, I’m not sure I get your public/private distinction. Folks don’t want to be forced to purchase a product … period. It matters not who is selling. I don’t see how the public option would have insulated the law from SCOTUS scrutiny.

    If Obama really wanted to avoid this fiasco, he would have put his foot down and accepted only one solution — Medicare for all.

    • March 30, 2012 10:10 am

      R, you’re conflating public opinion with legal standing. From the court’s perspective, there’s a huge difference between public services and private industry. Sure, wingnuts are gonna rile people up and convince them that’s socialism, etc…But you can’t bring a court case over “socialism”.

      While I desperately agree with you on the wisdom of a single payer system, this is Obama we’re talking about, and any single payer plan was always going to be hampered in the Senate by the likes of Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, etc. *Sigh* maybe someday… 😉

  3. jacksmith permalink
    March 29, 2012 9:27 pm

    REALITY!! And A Fix for Unemployment, Homelessness and Hunger

    In addition to fixing healthcare the right way we need a NewDeal. We need a permanent and updated FDR WPA (Works Progress Administration). A Full employment act requiring the government to provide a job for everyone able to work that wants to work at a living wage or better. At safe, meaningful work where they live. Guaranteed by the US government. With free or very affordable excellent healthcare and free or very affordable education and training for advancement or just personal enrichment.

    ( )

    ( Gov. Peter Shumlin: Real Healthcare reform — )

    ( Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator — )

    ( Briefing: Dean Baker on Boosting the Economy by Saving Healthcare )


    As you all know. Had congress passed a single-payer or government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one, our economy and jobs would have taken off like a rocket. And still will. Single-payer would be best. But a government-run robust Public Option CHOICE! that can lead to a single-payer system is the least you can accept. It’s not about competing with for-profit healthcare and for-profit health insurance. It’s about replacing it with Universal Healthcare Assurance. Everyone knows this now.

    The message from the midterm elections was clear. The American people want real healthcare reform. They want that individual mandate requiring them to buy private health insurance abolished. And they want a government-run robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. And they want it now.

    They want Drug re-importation, and abolishment, or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. They want back control of their healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. And they want it NOW!


    For-profit health insurance is extremely unethical, and morally repugnant. It’s as morally repugnant as slavery was. And few if any decent Americans are going to allow them-self to be compelled to support such an unethical and immoral crime against humanity.

    This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

    Further, we want that corrupt, undemocratic filibuster abolished. Whats the point of an election if one corrupt member of congress can block the will of the people, and any legislation the majority wants. And do it in secret. Give me a break people.

    Also, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

    Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.



    This is what the American people are shouting at you. Both parties have just enough power now to do what the American people want. GET! IT! DONE! NOW!

    If congress does not abolish the individual mandate. And establish a government-run public option CHOICE! before the end of 2011. EVERY! member of congress up for reelection in 2012 will face strong progressive pro public option, and anti-individual mandate replacement candidates.

    Strong progressive pro “PUBLIC OPTION” CHOICE! and anti-individual mandate volunteer candidates should begin now. And start the process of replacing any and all members of congress that obstruct, or fail to add a government-run robust PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! before the end of 2011.

    We need two or three very strong progressive volunteer candidates for every member of congress that will be up for reelection in 2012. You should be fully prepared to politically EVISCERATE EVERY INCUMBENT that fails or obstructs “THE PUBLIC OPTION”. And you should be willing to step aside and support the strongest pro “PUBLIC OPTION” candidate if the need arises.

    ASSUME CONGRESS WILL FAIL and SELLOUT again. So start preparing now to CUT THEIR POLITICAL THROATS. You can always step aside if they succeed. But only if they succeed. We didn’t have much time to prepare before these past midterm elections. So the American people had to use a political shotgun approach. But by 2012 you will have a scalpel.

    Congress could have passed a robust government-run public option during it’s lame duck session. They knew what the American people wanted. They already had several bills on record. And the house had already passed a public option. Departing members could have left with a truly great accomplishment. And the rest of you could have solidified your job before the 2012 elections.

    President Obama, you promised the American people a strong public option available to everyone. And the American people overwhelmingly supported you for it. Maybe it just wasn’t possible before. But it is now.

    Knock heads. Threaten people. Or do whatever you have to. We will support you. But get us that robust public option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one before the end of 2011. Or We The People Of The United States will make the past midterm election look like a cake walk in 2012. And it will include you.

    We still have a healthcare crisis in America. With hundreds of thousands dieing needlessly every year in America. And a for profit medical industrial complex that threatens the security and health of the entire world. They have already attacked the world with H1N1 killing thousands, and injuring millions. And more attacks are planned for profit, and to feed their greed.

    Spread the word people.

    Progressives, prepare the American peoples scalpels. It’s time to remove some politically diseased tissues.

    God Bless You my fellow human beings. I’m proud to be one of you. You did good.

    See you on the battle field.


    jacksmith – WorkingClass 🙂

  4. March 29, 2012 3:04 pm

    President Obama has often spoken of his respect for Steve Jobs but he seems to have missed the part where Steve said he didn’t believe in focus groups to assist in developing new products because people don’t know what they want. Jobs would do something great and then communicate, communicate, communicate. That’s how you change the world. Obama needs to make a note.

    • March 29, 2012 3:32 pm

      communicate, communicate, communicate.

      (Of course, creating the best product in the first place instead of always looking for the compromise, is also a good plan.)

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