Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 26, 2013

MARK HEINIG: Affordable Care Act: Imperfect, inevitable

Conservatives, liberals must implement it

We’re nearly half-way through 2013. It’s time to start looking ahead to 2014, and hope we fare better in the coming year than we have so far in the present one.

Unfortunately, the outlook for 2014 isn’t as promising as we might wish. Our economic and employment prospects seem to be improving, but what about the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, usually referred to as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare? Isn’t it supposed to go into effect in 2014? That’s the plan, but such huge undertakings rarely happen as planned. It’s destined to become the most controversial domestic issue of 2014 and probably for many years thereafter!

Obamacare has survived one Supreme Court challenge, and another one probably wouldn’t be more successful. The court is very cautious about reversing its rulings. Congress isn’t likely to repeal the law. Its opponents don’t have the necessary votes. They may never have them. The longer a piece of social welfare legislation remains in effect, the harder it is to repeal. It morphs from a law to an entitlement to a right with amazing speed.

None of that renders the critics of the act powerless, but they need a different strategy. Instead of trying to kill something that just won’t die, they should be trying to change it in ways they like more or dislike less.

The full impact of the act will emerge slowly. In its current form, I think many of us find it intimidating. We may have to make life-altering choices about things we don’t understand. I don’t understand much of it myself, and I used to be a licensed insurance agent. However, I do understand how important it is for both conservatives and liberals to play a role in implementing it.

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