March 31st: Will Obamacare’s Teeth Begin to Bite?

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(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Dominic Dezzutti By Dominic Dezzutti
CBSDenver.com Blogger
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For more information about the Affordable Care Act, visit CBSDenver.com/ACA.

March 31st is a very significant deadline in the life of the Affordable Care Act. It is the deadline for everyone who does not have health insurance coverage to finally sign up with either a state managed or federally managed health insurance plan.

When most of us think of the uninsured at this point, we think about lazy twenty somethings who simply haven’t gotten around to finally signing up. And by the look of the ads that the ACA is putting on social media and on television, it’s easy to think that way.

So when we consider that March 31st is the deadline and that fines are set to begin to be charged to those who have not signed up, it’s easy to think that the only people who are at risk of receiving those fines are those who deserve the punitive treatment for waiting so long.

However, with over 400 million people in the United States today, logic would impel us to remember that many others who have yet to sign up for health insurance may be very different than the average twenty something.

How will we all react when fines are charged to people that would seemingly deserve our pity? Perhaps a fifty something who is out of a job, and not eligible for other programs or maybe when a single mother of three who hasn’t signed up due to other unforeseen circumstances?

Will fines be charged to people like this and if so, will they immediately become the poster children of what’s wrong with Obamacare?

If fines are not charged, will Obamacare continue to struggle to get those final numbers that elude the government officials who predicted far more sign-ups by now?

To me, those are the big questions to answer after March 31st.

If the government plays favorites, by only charging fines to those who look like they can afford it and simply keep giving extensions to those who would make better negative campaign ads, that will also blow up in the government’s face.

As my very favorite piece of philosophy from Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid goes, “Must pick one side or the other, if you stay in the middle, you’ll be squished like a grape.”

There will be plenty of attention paid to how the federal government deals with the post March 31st world.

Democratic candidates will be looking for some good news and hoping that no sad story poster children show up.

Republican candidates will be on a desperate search for that one disastrous story of fines being charged to the equivalent of Mother Theresa.

Those of us standing on the sidelines of this political war will not have to wait long to see what happens. It will be fairly obvious if fines are being levied quickly or if government officials will find reasons to delay seeking those who have not signed up as of yet.

It’s also safe to say that if the post March 31st world produces an intriguing story of someone being fined for having not signed up, we will be very familiar with them because we will see them on a regular basis for the next seven and a half months.

Dominic Dezzutti’s Latest Blog Entries

About The Blogger

- 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.

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