Obamacare is here to stay, and it’s driving the right bonkers.
The massive overhaul of this country’s health insurance regulatory structure not only survived Supreme Court review, it survived its first political test in a sweeping victory for President Obama and down-ticket Democrats. For conservatives, that means that the last two years have, in effect, been wasted. But rather than concede defeat and re-group many on the right are forging ahead, doubling down on their promise to repeal health care reform. Here are five problems that still face Obamacare after all this drama:
1. Tea Party sore losers flat out refuse to implement Obamacare
A number of states like Texas and Wisconsin have decided to opt-out of the state exchanges under Obamacare. The reasoning, as offered up by Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is that states should have more control over health care reform, so naturally more state control over Obamacare means handing the reigns for creating the insurance exchanges used to administer the reforms over to the federal government. Because that makes perfect sense. Just in case this sounds like an overreaction, consider the fact that some Tea Partiers were demanding a return to “citizens arrests” of any government official who started to implement the law. Seriously.
2. Conservative billionaires find sneaky loopholes to avoid giving employees health insurance
It’s not just Tea Party governors taking the loss over health care reform badly. Private businesses like Papa Johns Pizza, Olive Garden, Denny’s and other big-box chains have decided to send a message to America and cut employee hours and drop health care coverage in protest over the law. And while it’s easy to be smug about such news–after all these businesses not only deliver crappy products but they already exploit workers and depress local economies — it’s important to remember they do employ a lot of people. And those people need health care coverage and likely live in a state where conservatives are trying to take that coverage away both in the public sector and now the private sector too.
3. GOP still fighting Obamacare in the courts
It’s not just the numerous legal challenges to the birth control mandate that are gumming up the works in the implementation of Obamacare, but conservatives are still litigating the health care law itself. This time, instead of challenging the constitutionality of health care reform, conservatives are challenging the federal government’s ability to administer subsidies for health insurance coverage in the multi-state exchange. These subsidies are what will make insurance coverage affordable for people who previously couldn’t afford insurance. Conservatives argue only state exchanges can give out these subsidies, and that if a state chooses not to set up an exchange then there’s no way for citizens in that state to get a subsidy to pay for their insurance in the federal exchange. So in places like Wisconsin and Texas that means that if these legal challenges are successful then conservatives will mark this victory in lives lost, having made it impossible for their citizens to get affordable health insurance despite the existence of reforms designed to do just that.
4. Transgendered people and others still face discrimination under Obamacare
Despite all its advances Obamacare has some big flaws. One area of concern is making sure all people get access to the same comprehensive coverage. While the bulk of the non-discrimination provisions of Obamacare have focused on provisions that will end benefits discrimination against women, the Center for American Progress has a new report designed to help fill any gaps in coverage for transgender people. As it stands, health insurance companies routinely target transgender people for denial of benefits that are routinely covered for nontransgender people. Until these practices come to an end across the spectrum Obamacare will remain an unfilled promise for many. Conservatives hate the idea of including transgender people in non-discrimination provisions and insurance companies love an excuse to exclude health care services from coverage.
5. It’s too big to fail
The Obama administration has pushed back the deadlines for states in setting up exchanges multiple times already, in part because the administrative burdens in implementing the changes have proven trickier than even Washington anticipated. And while that fact alone is nothing that should surprise us– after all if health care reform was easy it would have been done eons ago– it shows the most obvious vulnerability in Obamacare: It’s size. It’s an ambitious project with far-reaching goals. In a world where our citizenry is used to instantaneous information the time needed to launch Obamacare could prove to be its greatest political liability, a fact conservative foes will be all to willing to exploit whatever way they can.
Photo from will1ill via flickr.