As many of you may have predicted – or secretly feared, or even hoped for – October has indeed been one incredibly wild ride for anyone connected in even an ancillary fashion to the ACA. Or those of you who happen to have anything to do with the daily operations of the federal government.
I guess that includes all of us. It has not been pretty.
Oddly, life goes on – there’s even talk today of a Senate fix (and the subsequent House battle) to try to kick-start federal operations just before the next crisis-du-jour, the debt ceiling crash, comes rolling along the pike.
The good news, if there is any, is that in this first week of action on the exchanges (and yes, as employers and decision-makers, we know they’re not your bread and butter), the system did not spontaneously implode. Sure, there were crashes, there were overloads and there were outright systemic failures, but the apparatus of the many state exchanges seemed to get off to a reasonably successful, if somewhat wobbly, start.
The bigger issue – and the one at the heart of this ongoing and frankly embarrassing swordfight that keeps the federal shutdown limping along – is an ideological battle about the ACA itself. Though many of you who’ve spent the last three years meticulously and delicately preparing your businesses and employee groups for it may have gotten the impression that it was all a done deal. Funny, that.
I won’t go too deeply into news I heard earlier in the week that the entire shutdown may have been a well-executed and completely manufactured partisan strategy to completely undermine Obamacare, at the 11th hour – but it pains me. As it pains the 800,000 or so federal employees who are directly impacted, and the millions of U.S. workers and contractors affected in spin-off fashion by their inability to get work done with the government.
In Europe or further abroad, though, I guess we’d get politicians on hunger strike or resorting to more self-destructive means to try to get their way; here, everyone gets to share the pain while the whining and bickering over the ACA continues. Which, as mentioned, we’ve all curiously been addressing as if it’s the law of the land. As it is.
The only real good to come of the 24-hour-a-day CNN headlines over the past week is at least a heightened awareness of the fact that Obamacare is the real deal and is going to have a very significant impact on HR operations henceforth. Employees who were hoping to put off any decision-making on the subject of their health care coverage have at least been given some media reminders that their benefits – and their options – will change, often for the better, in the immediate months.
And dialog is great. Holding your breath until your face turns blue, because you didn’t get your way – that’s politics. Let us hope for a quick conclusion, so we can all get back to our paperwork.
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