The deadline for people to sign up for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, was Monday.
Anyone who didn't will face certain penalties that will be enforced by the IRS on their next set of taxes, and since nobody wants to mess with the IRS, that may have gotten the enrollment numbers over the top.
The number of last-minute sign-ups may actually have gotten close to the number needed to make Obamacare work, especially if most of the six million previously uninsured who signed up are fine, strapping, healthy young people (and we stress the "if" because we don't know if that's true, yet).
Obamacare as a concept had great promise, and after 100 years of virtually every president trying to enact some form of a national health care plan, Obama made some key compromises and managed to ramrod it through Congress.
The problem was, those compromises essentially turned the writing of the legislation over to the health care insurance industry, which is going to be making out like bandits we suspect. It did nothing, however, to bring down health care costs, which is what most people really wanted to see.
Furthermore, the execution of Obamacare has been abysmal, starting with the overloaded servers and glitchy, inadequately tested software when the thing rolled out last fall. The list of problems that have popped up, and the promises that have been been reneged on ("you can keep your existing health care"), are too numerous to list on this page. There was a lot of hope for the original concept, but the implementation changed all that (see, hope and change).
It had some unintended consequences, such as saving the Republican Party, which was melting down in the polls over hits handling of budget issues. In fact, Obamacare may very will trump the GOP budget deadlock disasters as THE campaign issue this fall, a factor that has a good chance of handing control of the Senate back to the Republicans.
But as bad as this legislation has been, it let the genie out of the bottle. There's no going back.
Only the most ardent critics continue to call for its repeal. Most people, even some of its stronger opponents, now want the law fixed. They don't want the concept of national health care to go away, not any more, but they do want to make changes that might make the concept work. In fact, fixing Obamacare actually has bipartisan support.
So, when you hear debates about Obamacare between now and this fall, listen closely to the fixes each side is actually proposing. That's where the real future of national health care will arise, and the direction it takes will be decided by the voters this fall. It's going to be a very important election.
-- Kelly Everitt