A new controversy about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exploded into view this week because insurers are cancelling hundreds of thousands of consumer policies as of Dec. 31.
“The real problem is that people weren’t told the truth,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. “You can remember, they were told that they would be able to keep their policies if they liked them. Now you hear hundreds of thousands of people across the country being told they couldn’t.” Administration officials say better policies will replace the canceled insurance.
Meanwhile, the massive website glitches frustrating ACA enrollment prompted an apology to the public Oct. 30 from Secretary Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, right. Republicans have called for her resignation.
“Access to HealthCare.gov has been a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans,” Sebelius told a congressional hearing while vowing to fix the problems. To the American people, she said, “You deserve better. I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems.”
The Obama administration and other Democrats have defended the law while also announcing Oct. 23 a six-week delay in enforcement next spring of penalties against those uninsured Americans who fail to enroll in ACA with an insurance provider.
The history of the law shows that government leaders in both parties focused on political posturing from the beginning instead of planning an effective system under ACA, also known as “Obamacare.”
This column summarizes the failure of both parties to address the fundamental problems of the system in a candid manner, thereby creating current problems.
Based in part on my Capitol Hill reporting of the genesis of the law in 2009 and 2010, I link the problems to the powerful private sector forces that control the destinies of both politicians and the public.
The problems involve not simply mismanagement — but crony capitalism that benefits insiders. The complicit insiders include supposed watchdog institutions, such as universities that receive grants on a political basis.
Implicated also are media organizations and their affiliates, which depend less on informing readers than on relationships with the power players who can provide news, ads and — less obviously but very importantly — lucrative corporate affiliate agreements.
In essence, many so-called news organizations function largely as the PR department of their conglomerate parent. Their loyalty to the parent organization is so pervasive that recent hires or reporters and editors who have survived decades of group-think and staff cutbacks often have difficulty imagining, much less acting upon, a fundamental loyalty to consumers, small businesses, and other health care system users.
For those reasons, this week’s controversies over the health insurance legislation relate directly to my new book, new book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters. The hearings on Obamacare, the current law and related austerity measures are vital to nearly everyone’s future, as described below.