Obamacare Election Battle to be a Tale of Two Laws
The debacle that has been the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been covered six ways to Sunday. And it’s clear that the magnitude of the event will propel the law and the rollout to the top of election campaign battles throughout the country in 2014.
But while the coverage of the issue has been predominantly and justifiably about how the numbers have been low and the problems have been many, Democrats will work hard to change that script over the next few months.
As the script changes, expect the stories from both sides to be more about individuals and less about websites and numbers.
I think as 2014 unfolds, we will begin to see both parties tell the story about two very different Affordable Care Acts.
Democrats will begin to roll out stories about people whose very lives were saved, or at least improved, from the fantastic coverage only made possible by the ACA. We’ll begin to see kids with pre-existing conditions and people who were laid off two years ago reveling in their new health care coverage. The stories will need to be strong enough to combat the negativity that has been generated so far, and the mass amount of negativity about to be created.
Republicans know this is coming, and will have their own stories prepared for the same fight. We will see stories of people who lost their coverage they loved and doctors that they have gone to for years. We will hear from young people who are forced to continue to live with their parents because of the new financial burden of health insurance. It will seem like Armageddon without as many locusts.
But my point is this. As Americans, the reality of the situation is that our government passed a massive piece of legislation three years ago and as a country, it is far more likely that we will need to live with a fixed version of the law than to see it actually repealed.
Flaws in the law are undeniable, but a full repeal would take a shift in power of epic proportions and even that would still make it a risky bet.
Imagine that instead of stories about how some people’s lives have been saved by the ACA, or utterly ruined by the ACA, we could hear ideas about how to fix the law.
Imagine that the millions or more likely tens of millions of dollars that will be spent next year either supporting or besmirching the ACA could be spent to actually find solutions to problems with the law and the health care industry.
I’ve been a naive optimist with a strong imagination for my entire life, so these scenarios come very naturally to me. But I need to be honest; it will be hard to see the battles of the highs and lows of the ACA when someone could actually spend that time and money looking for a way to improve our general situation.
Even though Senator Mark Udall is pursuing a different solution than the President suggested, I can’t imagine that any Democrat running for re-election next year will be able to pass anything substantive through Congress this year. Democrats who are not running in competitive races do not need to risk the political capital for any compromises and Republicans currently do not see any value in a proposal that isn’t a full repeal.
So without any real game changer moments, we may be headed for a 2014 filled with stories from the two very edges of the spectrum of the ACA universe. Politics lives at the fringes now and I guess you can call stories like these, fringe benefits.
Sorry, terrible puns are a byproduct of naïve optimism.
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– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here usually every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti is also the host and producer of the Emmy award winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.