My view: Fix Obamacare, don't replace it

By Turner Bitton

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 10 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Despite attempts to slow, sabotage and weaken it, Obamacare will be successful given time. History shows us that all major reforms and improvements to our health care system have had their fair share of kinks.

Jessica Hill, Associated Press

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Indira Gandhi said, “There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”

President Obama has weathered unbelievable hatred because of his support for our chosen movement toward fairer delivery of health care. Yes, Americans have, in fact, chosen health care reform as a priority. Obamacare was passed by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court and the president was re-elected despite the use of Obamacare as a wedge issue.

The problems with our health care system were widely documented, as are the market-friendly solutions included in Obamacare. Yes, Obamacare is a market-friendly reform conceived in 1989 in the womb of today’s tea party: the Heritage Foundation (Heritage Lectures #218 “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans" by Stuart M. Butler). It was born into legislative life by none other than Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett in the 1993 “Consumer Choice Health Security Act.”

In March of 1992, the Heritage Foundation published "The Heritage Consumer Choice Plan," which explained the pathway best suited to achieve universal coverage. Number two on the list? “Require all households to purchase at least a basic package of insurance, unless they are covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or other government health programs. … All heads of households would be required by law to obtain at least a basic health plan specified by Congress. … The private insurance market would be reformed to make a standard basic package available to all at an acceptable price. … Employers would be required to make a payroll deduction each pay period, at the direction of the employee, and send the amount to the plan of the employee's choice.”

Either you can be in the first group that Indira Gandhi spoke of or you can be in the second. The disingenuous displays of glee at the misfortunes of the launch of the Obamacare website prove the GOP is in the second group.

Despite attempts to slow, sabotage and weaken it, Obamacare will be successful given time. History shows us that all major reforms and improvements to our health care system have had their fair share of kinks.

In June, the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University released a study titled "Launching the Medicare Part D Program: Lessons for the New Health Insurance Marketplaces." This study documented the issues related to the rollout of Medicare Part D. The lessons of this study worry the GOP. Not because Obamacare won’t work, but because it already is.

After Congress created Medicare Part D in 2005, the rollout was riddled with glitches, problems and issues. The pressure from the public over the "disastrous" rollout of Medicare Part D even led Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, a key Obamacare critic, to plead that “this is a huge undertaking and there are bound to be glitches. My goal is the same as yours: Get rid of the glitches.”

The benefits of Obamacare are being felt in Utah and this moment belongs to the Democratic Party because we Democrats heed Indira’s advice. Like Medicare and Medicaid, Obamacare shows that Democrats lead while the GOP stands on the wrong side of history. We showed leadership and were willing to pass a health care bill designed by Republicans with only Democratic votes. This wasn’t a conspiracy — the GOP just put politics above a policy they designed.

Turner C. Bitton serves as the vice chairman of the Weber County Democratic Party and is on the Democratic National Committee’s Youth Council. He lives in Ogden and blogs at www.turnerbitton.com.

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