Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 2, 2014

Talking about Obamacare enrollment

There’s going to be a lot of arguing about Obamacare in the coming days and weeks — even more so than usual, that is. Monday was the last day for people to sign up for health insurance for this year. Supporters will claim that the late surge in enrollment proves the Affordable Care Act is a success, while opponents will counter that continued technical glitches and last-minute changes show the law to be a failure.

As much as this tedious debate deserves to end, it’s unlikely to as long as Democrats and Republicans live and breathe (and need health care). It’s possible, however, that the end of open enrollment will allow for the start of a better, more important debate: about how the new law works and how it can be improved upon.

Now that the rush of enrollment has passed, the challenge is to identify and respond to at least three kinds of concerns. The first involves relatively narrow problems with the law itself. For example, many state-run exchanges are poorly run; states such as Maryland and Massachusetts need help to fix them in time for the next open enrollment period, which starts in November. The law’s programs to cushion insurers from excess risk may also need reinforcement — if not enough young people sign up for insurance — to lessen any shocks to premiums next year.

That leads to the second kind of problem — with the health-care system generally. This includes persuading still more young people to sign up next time; getting more doctors and hospitals to coordinate care, making good on the promise to make medicine more affordable; and smoothing the transition from employer-based coverage for people who lose it.

None of this occurs in a political vacuum, of course, and this is the last and most expansive challenge. (It’s also one reason that the debate about Obamacare is not going away.) If the Affordable Care Act could be said to have a single purpose, it would be to extend health-care insurance to people who cannot afford it. That it does so in such a convoluted way is not a bug, as they say in computer science, but a feature: It’s the politics that enabled the law’s very existence.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Pensions need to be addressed I will have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed today with the receipt of articles and suggestions for a column. One of my Fitness Mafia colleagues constantly tells me the columns are too long and trying to address different subjects just dilutes

    July 22, 2014

  • VA still failing our vets Jymm’s preferred attire is a skin-tight Minnie Mouse T-shirt with bright pink windbreaker pants. Even when not sporting his choice outfit, he dons short shorts and shirts with holes in them, because that’s what he finds most comfortable. His Santa Mo

    July 22, 2014

  • Feed your home piggy bank with a 15-year mortgage This summer, we finally decided to take the plunge we’d been contemplating for a while: converting our 30-year mortgage to one with a 15-year payoff. It’s a big step. Our payments will go up somewhat (the PITI — principal, interest, tax, and insuranc

    July 19, 2014

  • Under the dumb There is a TV series about an entire town trapped under a giant, mysterious crystal-clear dome that appears out of the blue one day. The dome is impenetrable; no one can get in, no one can get out. Who made the dome? Aliens? God? A super-secret branc

    July 19, 2014

  • Widening the loopholes This week, two more U.S. companies moved to reestablish themselves overseas, allowing them to pursue lower corporate tax rates. They will join dozens of others who have chased lower tax bills abroad while maintaining operations in the United States,

    July 19, 2014

  • Patriotism not questioned Editor:I am responding to Mayor Mary Jane Chesley’s Reader’s View article in the Thursday, June 19, 2014, Register-News “Patriotism is strong.”The mayor has missed the point of my Reader’s View/opinion article in the local newspapers regarding Flag D

    July 19, 2014

  • Who's telling a story now? For this administration, failure is always the result of a “communications” problem. Otherwise, failure might be taken as evidence of misguided ideology and incompetent execution, right? It’s a weird excuse for the president who fancies himself to be

    July 18, 2014

  • Why cutting corporate taxes won't help the middle class WASHINGTON — Earlier this week, I testified in front of the Joint Economic Committee on the topic of assessing the recovery after five years.As you can imagine, congressional testimony can be pretty frustrating these days for members of the fact-base

    July 18, 2014

  • Heart of darkness in buffer zone BOSTON — “Be careful. This is a dangerous corner.”It’s not until you visit the Boston Planned Parenthood clinic at the heart of the recent Supreme Court buffer-zone case that you realize the unnecessary danger it created. And I’m not even inside.On t

    July 18, 2014

  • When should U.S. use force? Was the Iraq war the greatest strategic error in recent decades, as some pundits have suggested recently? The simple answer is no. That honor belongs to the failure to take action against al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden before the attacks that killed ne

    July 17, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks