The rollout of the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare in September 2009 in these pages, has begun today.
Republicans who proclaimed that the country neither wants a government shutdown nor Obamacare have partially shut down the US government over Obamacare. Democrats and The White House did not want the government shutdown and did not compromise on delaying Obamacare by 1 year. They gave the country both of what it did not want: shutdown and Obamacare. No wonder the Democrats lost the House of Representatives in 2010 over Obamacare.
There is a way out of this impasse because Republicans do have a point. The Affordable Care Act’s provision of requiring all Americans to carry health insurance, known as the individual mandate, can be delayed by 1 year and the tax on medical devices must be repealed, among other things such as entitlements and tax reforms for negotiation between the Republican House and the Democrat Senate, in exchange for passing the budget and raising the debt ceiling. After all the president had already delayed an employer provision by 1 year.
A delay of 1 year of the individual mandate gives sufficient time to iron out glitches in the rollout, and can also help make the law better – something the president wants on a bipartisan basis. For example, a critical deficiency in the health care law is millions of Americans living in states not expanding Medicaid will not be covered. In fact, means-testing all for health insurance premiums can fairly redistribute the burden of universal health care and end Medicare and Medicaid.
It is highly likely that the debt ceiling will be raised without negotiation as the president wants but the government shutdown will continue until there is a budget deal.