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June 3, 2013

HOWEY: Obamacare and the Republican time warp

INDIANAPOLIS —

Obamacare is coming! Obamacare is coming! If you're a Democrat, you're looking over your shoulder heading into the 2014 Affordable Care Act installation (and mid-term elections) and pointing out that people with pre-existing conditions will be covered, there will no longer be annual limits for coverage received, and that college kids can stay on their parents' plan until age 27.

If you're a Republican, Obamacare is the Moore, Okla., tornado. It is an abomination that is keeping jobless rates unacceptably high as uncertain employers refuse to expand.

“Employers can't afford ObamaCare's mandates and penalties,” said U.S. Rep. Luke Messer as the House voted on a repeal last week. “They're scaling back the hours of their employees as a result.” U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski called it a “train wreck.”

They were responding to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D- MT., and an architect and supporter of the ACA, who called the Oct. 1 implementation of the health exchanges  “a huge train wreck coming.” 

Is it a “train wreck?” Lawrence Kocot of the Brookings Institute observes, “It probably depends on what type of railroad one was expecting. No implementation is without challenges and this one will be particularly rough given the size and scope. The real measure of success is how many people actually enroll in this new benefit and get the subsidy for which they qualify.”

This latest Republican angst came earlier this month after the House voted for the 37th time to repeal Obamacare, prompting thoughts of Albert Einstein's observation that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is a definition of “insanity.”

What Republicans don't talk about is the historic missed opportunity the party had for six years between 2001 and 2007, with President George W. Bush in the White House and GOP majorities in Congress. All of the health care problems that Doc Bowen and President Reagan found in 1986 and attempted to address in 1988, that First Lady Hillary Clinton tried to fix in 1993 — the bankruptcies after catastrophic illnesses, people denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, the skyrocketing premiums for families and businesses large and small —were all there and festering.

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