Obamacare—A legacy to remember or to forget?

Elinor Tatum | 11/14/2013, 4:38 p.m.

As we have shown in issue after issue of this paper, from the first utterance of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, to the current difficulties, this wasn’t a measure that would be completed overnight. Nor would its significant arrival for millions of Americans without any health insurance be a smooth one.

When a similar health care plan was enacted in Massachusetts—and it was a far smaller enterprise—it took months before it was up and running, and even today it’s not without its imperfections.

From its very inception as a possible milestone (and hopefully not a millstone) legacy for President Barack Obama, the ACA was met with stern opposition from the GOP. It is instructive to remember that Obama was attempting to do something that was of Rooseveltian proportions, something that President Bill Clinton could not accomplish.

That the president was able to get a bill passed over a belligerent, bellicose bunch of naysaying Republicans was almost miraculous. And the act was given additional, albeit surprising, sanction from the Supreme Court—though much of this has been lost in the rancor of disappointment from Americans who feel he bungled the deal by not revealing some of the problems that loomed ahead (whether he knew then in advance is another story).

To be sure, he could have used better judgment in his selection of the company that would head the IT charge. Rather, the endeavor was outsourced to a Canadian tech company unprepared for the heavy wave of requests for insurance, and they deserve some consolation because they were given such a short span of time to get it up and functioning. Some 11 million Americans were eager to sign on to healthcare.gov, but unfortunately, only six people were able to register in the first hours of operation.

The other day, Obama, after what must have been a painful mea culpa apology, promised to fix the broken system, and with his employing some savvy techies from Silicon Valley and giving strong marching orders to his aides, there’s a good chance the system will be all right by the end of the month, as promised.

We believe that once things are operating at full capacity, millions of Americans—even those encumbered with terrible policies that do not meet the guidelines of ACA—will begin to see the benefits, particularly those with lower premiums to pay and with comprehensive coverage they didn’t have before.

There are many Americans who blame the president for all the flaws in the system. They hold him personally accountable for all that is wrong. One person in particular texted this newspaper, saying, “Obamacare is the biggest mess this country has ever had … what can we all do to stop it? I know you support him, and I’ve never had any issues with the guy … just another president … but what he’s already done is appalling! I’ve spent a week now on the phone with insurance, and if they were bad before, now it’s a nightmare … I’m sure Obama doesn’t want to hurt people, but he is hurting so many! It’s bad! Really bad! My friends had their policies canceled … I got a pile of letters saying that mine will too.”