This week was the homestretch for Obamacare enrollment, with the deadline to sign up without penalty arriving tomorrow. On Thursday, the White House announced that enrollments had exceeded the CBO's estimate of 6 million. No doubt, furious debate over the program will continue into the midterm election, even as one poll finds 53 percent of Americans are tired of the endless back and forth. But now that this phase is done, how about instead of debating health insurance we focus on actual health care? Let's start with the fact that 75 percent of health care spending, and two-thirds of doctor visits, are for preventable chronic stress-related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. As important as it is, extending access to a flawed notion of health care isn't enough. Sick care is a lot more expensive than true health care. So what if we now redirect all this energy into finding ways to prevent as many people as possible from needing treatment, whether they have insurance or not?
The ancient Greeks liked to say that character is fate.The colossal mess that Obamacare has become reflects both the character of the legislation and that of the president who sponsored it. The Affordable Care Act, as a government mandate for people to purchase private insurance with an array of possible subsidies, had too many moving parts. It was an accident waiting to happen. As many of us wrote at the time, Medicare for All would be simpler to execute, easier to understand, and harder for Republicans to oppose. But this was not to be. Instead we got a program that was poorly understood by the public because it was almost impossible to explain and even harder to execute.
This week, people continued to ask: is this the health insurance change we've been waiting for? Having had nearly four years to prepare, the Obama administration continued to deal with the embarrassing, high-glitch, low-enrollment rollout of Obamacare. On Thursday, the president announced a feeble fix, allowing people to keep existing plans for a year, and admitted, about his "you can keep it" promise: "that's on me... we fumbled the rollout." Trying to pounce on the fumble was the GOP-led House, which on Friday passed its own "fix" -- one that would essentially kneecap the law. Of course, it is the shockingly inept rollout that makes the Affordable Care Act vulnerable to such bogus "reforms." The mystery is why Obamacare wasn't entrusted to the same tech wizards responsible for the state-of-the-art Obamacampaign. Odds are you won't hear the president rallying the nation around "the fierce urgency of a fully functioning website by the end of the month," but that's the make-or-break moment the White House is now facing. Hope, indeed.