Employee Benefit Views

Last-minute ACA fights expose one bitter ideological battle

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Posted October 8, 2013 by Andy Stonehouse at 10:21AM. Comments (4)

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.

4 Comments

Posted by: Marta G | October 9, 2013 10:56 AM

Kenneth S., thank you for your comment and honesty. Yes. We have been lied to. We were told that Obamacare was being enacted to help the uninsured. We were NOT told that under Obamacare, Employers were going to lose their ability to deduct their health insurance expenses for their Employer Provided Health Insurance. There are many, many examples of the "we were not told and not consulted".Obamacare is a huge redistribution of wealth from the middle class to a few privileged industries and large corporations. Repeal it. It's a can of worms and we have not yet seen all that Pandora's Box contains.

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Posted by: Marta G | October 9, 2013 10:55 AM

Kenneth S., thank you for your comment and honesty. Yes. We have been lied to. We were told that Obamacare was being enacted to help the uninsured. We were NOT told that under Obamacare, Employers were going to lose their ability to deduct their health insurance expenses for their Employer Provided Health Insurance. There are many, many examples of the "we were not told and not consulted".Obamacare is a huge redistribution of wealth from the middle class to a few privileged industries and large corporations. Repeal it. It's a can of worms and we have not yet seen all that Pandora's Box contains.

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Posted by: Larry G | October 9, 2013 10:42 AM

Are the people implementing ObamaCare "essential"? What about the so-called "navigators"? I would not mind seeing all of them furloughed.

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Posted by: Kenneth S | October 8, 2013 1:07 PM

This author has his "head in the sand" and clearly has no insight or knowledge of the provisions of Obamacare that impact not only the economy but more importantly the "health of the American public. To say that employees benefits and options will change for the better is blatantly false and shallow! Unfortunately, the public is being "sold a bill of goods" that will not be felt for a year or two and then hit them like a ton of bricks. Coverage they cannot afford when they see what the cost is versus the benefits they were led to believe they were getting, inability to get treatment timely, etc., Wake up America. Socialized medicine has never worked and will not work here. Our country is being destroyed from within. Should have listened to Pogo!

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