Can a Squirrel Kill Obamacare?
About 25 years ago, a popping noise arose outside our office. Then everything went dark.
The door next to ours slammed. Our neighbor, a giant of a man, ran outside screaming, “What the *#!@% happened?” At the time, the region was engaged in a heated debate about turning on a nuclear power plant. Fresh in everyone’s mind was the Chernobyl disaster only a year earlier in the Soviet Union and partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania eight years earlier. The power company argued that nuclear power was safe, cheap, and nothing would ever go wrong. Opponents argued that nuclear disasters happen and take decades to recover from.
Turns out a squirrel got into the underground electric lines, bit a wire, fried itself and our computer, prompting my visit to city council to suggest that things happen with power companies.
Today, my most vivid memory is of my neighbor’s plaintive bellow that echoed for miles around, not of the cost and aggravation of losing our computer. He, too, lost his computer and hours of work. But neither of us closed our businesses over computer miseries.
The Affordable Care Act has serious computer problems, but when fixed, they will be forgotten. Few people recall the computer problems in 2006 with the start of Medicare Part D drug coverage for seniors. Pharmacies offered free guidance and had a steady stream of patients for months. Today, very few seek assistance and government computers work just fine.
In 2006, no one suggested repealing or delaying President Bush’s Part D plan which cost $1 trillion, hundreds of billions more than the ACA. Part D had no offsetting cost savings like the ACA has and uses private health insurance companies.
Ironies surround Obamacare. When it’s called the Affordable Care Act, rather than Obamacare – they are the same – people like it. Another irony is that the ACA was the Republican’s private market response to President Clinton’s government-sponsored healthcare plan 20 years ago.
Mitt Romney extolled the virtues of how Massachusetts used Medicaid funds to buy health insurance for the uninsured with no change in cost and better results. He expected it to pave his way to the White House until the final iteration of Obamacare was his plan. Since then, he and Republicans were forced to argue how bad it was, even though it worked in Massachusetts. The major complaint with Obamacare is its name. Despite complaints about government involvement in healthcare, few seniors or military complain about their government healthcare.
When a nation spends 18 percent of its income on healthcare – twice what other nations – and has 50 million people without healthcare, it has a problem that cannot be ignored.
Eighty years ago, Republicans opposed Social Security. Fifty years ago, Republicans opposed Medicare and Medicaid. Now they oppose the Affordable Care Act. They know that voters learn to like and rely upon government programs that make their lives better. Their nightmare is that Obamacare works.
Republicans were praying for something to wreak havoc on Obamacare. Their prayers were answered when that squirrel fried the Obamacare computers. But that squirrel didn’t prevail then, it won’t prevail now, and in the end, the squirrel will be fried.