Since its launch much has been written about the problems with the Affordable Care Act (affectionately known as Obamacare). Even the staunchest supporters would admit that they have been disappointed with the problems many have experienced. Never missing a chance to pounce, the conservative media have taken to pretending that these failures are reason to eliminate the ACA altogether.
And while a majority of Americans would like to see changes made to the ACA – few would argue against creating a system that provides coverage for as many Americans as possible and reduces costs in the mean time. Perhaps the ACA is this system, or perhaps it’s not. But conservatives had plenty of chances to make suggestions for how to improve the system. Unfortunately, rather than making any attempt to pull in the same direction for the good of the country, conservatives have used nearly 100 percent of their political capital to divide the country and undermine the program.
The good news is that one of the biggest reasons that the U.S. is the envy of the world is our stubborn persistence. For example, the Wright Brothers failed nearly a thousand times before eventually achieving flight. They didn’t run at the first sign of trouble. Instead they learned for their failures and improved their next design until they finally succeeded.
If Americans simply folded up their tents and went home at the first sign of trouble, the House of Representatives wouldn’t have managed to vote to repeal the ACA 42 separate times without actually offering a single improvement. Regardless of their repeated failure, they were steadfast in their resolve.
And while the ACA exchange system costs something like $500 million dollars and barely works, that is nothing compared to the $472 billion we have spend on the Lockheed Martin F-35 or the $54 billion we have spent on the V-22 Osprey. Neither of which represent the blueprint for how to launch a new product.
Also consider the Iraq War where the president declared “Mission Accomplished” less than two months into what would become a nearly decade long conflict. Things went so well in fact that, four years in, it was decided that we needed to double down on our initial investment with “the surge.”
This sort of success out of the box is not isolated to the public sector. No, Apple, Microsoft and Intel also introduced products that initially failed.
Even the Dow Jones and NASDAQ have been prone to software failure that ends up costs millions. And most every automotive company has had to issue a recall due to unexpected problems with a new model.
The reality is that the public and private sectors are riddled with failed launches – many of which conservatives were more than happy to stand by at the time. Suggesting that this one poor performance is grounds for dismissal ignores the vast number of government websites that function fine as well as all the instances where products rolled up unprepared only to be improved upon later.
As of today we have a law on the books that expands health care and attempts to address the out of control health care costs – costs that easily rank us #1 in the world, while only returning middling results in most instances.
As a country 18 percent of our spending goes towards healthcare – which is twice as much as is spent on all government food assistance programs, six times as much as we spend on Social Security, and over four times as much as we spend on defense. If conservatives are truly concerned about “out of control spending” then fixing health care should be a top priority. So to paraphrase George W. Bush, “you’re either with us, or you’re against us.” Standing on the sideline yelling “you suck” may win political points but it doesn’t address the problem.
As glitchy as the ACA may be it’s the only game in town. Perhaps instead of finding every possible way to tear the system down conservatives can offer some solutions – any solutions – that could make the ACA a law that at least 51 percent of Americans could be proud of.