In the lead-up to the presidential election, the opponents of ObamaCare warned that the November 6 vote was America’s last chance to end the health care law that was passed in early 2010. While the election was certainly an ideal chance—and a missed one—there’s no such thing as a last chance, unless the opposition decides to give up. And the early returns suggest that opponents of the new health law are not giving in just yet.
The implementation of ObamaCare requires either the states to set up insurance exchanges for people to buy coverage, or for the federal government to step in and do it for them.
A host of states with Republican governors—Wisconsin, Ohio and now New Jersey—have either publicly stated they won’t set up the exchanges, or in the case of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, vetoed legislation aimed at accomplishing such. Furthermore, Speaker John Boehner has said that the funding of ObamaCare is something that needs to be on the table in deficit reduction talks.
This law is going to require a broad national consensus to implement, and when the opposition party controls the branch of Congress that authorizes expenditures, plus thirty governorships, implementation can only happen through Republican capitulation. So far that isn’t happening.
Furthermore, implementation can only happen with public support and the reality is that the American public is not behind this law. Exit polling on November 6 showed a majority of Americans did not like ObamaCare, and were re-electing its namesake for other reasons. In several states, ballot initiatives tied to ObamaCare were on the ballot—and they all lost.
Let’s take it back a step further to early 2010 and recall the Republicans won a special Senate race in Massachusetts—for the late Teddy Kennedy’s old seat no less—because Scott Brown promised to be the 41st vote against health care (the number required to block legislation from coming to the Senate floor, until the defeated Left decided to re-write the rules). When Brown’s political career hinged exclusively on opposition to ObamaCare he won. When the focus of Massachusetts voters broadened this past November, he lost.
The message? Even in the most Democratic of states, voters will still cast their ballots against ObamaCare if that’s all that’s on the ballot. That’s why there should be no hesitation among Republicans, nor among conservative Democrats, who were bullied and overrun in their own party by the Obama-Pelosi alliance in early 2009 when the law was first being written, in going into full-scale opposition on implementation.
There’s still the messy task of constructing a new system for financing health care, one based on individual ownership of health insurance (i.e., not through one’s employer) and then using Medicaid to cover those who, through no fault of their own, can’t afford needed services.
The biggest failing of ObamaCare was not that it robbed America of a great system—in reality, the battles between the insurance industry and government resembled a war for turf among mafia dons, with the foot soldiers just kicking their percentage upstairs regardless of who was in charge.
No, the biggest failing of ObamaCare was that it wasted time in getting us to a better system. That’s why it needs to be resisted now, eventually overturned and finally replaced. The last I checked, November 6, 2012 was not the end date of history.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com