You May Shut Down The Government but NOT Obamacare
The current Obamacare tug of war between the White House and the GOP harks back to last year’s deathmatch over the debt ceiling and the federal deficit. The memory of the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration is still fresh in the minds of many Americans, perhaps because it isn’t a memory at all. Surely, federal employees and their families still feel the sting of the unpaid furloughs. And now the Republicans are threatening a government shutdown. Is it because they are unable to learn from past mistakes, or are they simply wired to fight tooth and nail every single Obama administration initiative?
Just to be clear, it’s not that the President can do no wrong. However, the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, is neither a whim nor was it born yesterday. As a matter o fact, universal healthcare is something that every American president-regardless of party allegiance- has aspired to and failed at for the last six decades. Obamacare aims to tend to the medical needs of millions of uninsured United States citizens, especially those who live below the poverty line and are not able to afford even the most basic medical attention short of a life and death emergency.
The Affordable Care Act has faced its shares of setbacks since it was signed back in 2010. One of the most recent is the delay of the employer mandate. Employers with 50 or more full time employees (at least 30 hours a week) were required by law to provide healthcare insurance coverage. As a result, many employers started cutting hours and laying employees off. Thus the mandate was delayed to give businesses more time to make adjustments. The newest obstacle is the government shutdown, or is it?
President Obama has said that the healthcare reform will proceed as scheduled-warts and all-in spite of the House-Senate deadlock shutting down the government. The failure of Republicans and Democrats to reach an agreement on spending matters may trickle down to civilian federal employees who would face the ghost of furloughs once again. Since essential services remain active during a shutdown, many other employees may not be furloughed, but they may not be paid on time either. In general, the first shutdown in almost 20 years would, much like the sequester, unfold in stages. Nonetheless, the impact on the economy could be around $1billion a week.
Is affordable and accessible healthcare worth of all that? Despite all of the talk about money (and it is a pretty penny) we still would like to think that you can’t put a price on people’s health, much as the powers-that-be have tried to. Obamacare is by no means perfect, but such a momentous and massive law is bound to have an amount of roughness that can be smoothed out over time. Healthcare is bound to be universal, but not mandatory. People who can afford to may still choose to forego coverage and pay a fine, and pay for medical expenses out of pocket. It’s those that have no choice that should come to mind first.