Editor's Note: Do You Care About Obamacare?
I wanted to believe in the Affordable Care Act.
It was 2010. Democrats had taken over the legislative and executive branches two years earlier, and fixing a pothole-replete health-care system was at the top of their to-do list.
I was frustrated with the GOP. The idea that millions of folks with pre-existing illnesses could be priced out of quality health coverage was immoral to me.
I had a bias, I admit. I have a close relative with multiple sclerosis and saw how her premiums would soar were she to switch jobs and thus be treated as an “other,” a high risk, a bad investment, a commodity—not a human being.
Republicans, under a Bush White House and with elephants patrolling both houses, had every chance to fix this prejudice, as well as other known cracks in the healthcare system.
They didn’t. Nor did they try.
So, while Obamacare was, in my opinion, a governmental overreach, there were important components of the law I supported. And based on the idea of overhauling one-sixth of our nation’s GDP, I accepted there would be challenges and setbacks.
Four years later, I am vexed.
There is much to like and much to dislike about Obamacare. In our comprehensive cover story by Angel Abcede and Melissa Vonder Haar, you will no doubt nod in agreement with the aggravation and uncertainty many in our industry are confronting. You may also find certain pieces of the ACA that you embrace.
What’s bothering me? Several things:
▶ Obama the Communicator: Professorial in style and charismatic when needed, President Obama is not a great communicator. Lacking Reagan’s reassuring calm and Clinton’s ability to translate the complex into the comprehensible, Obama comes across as aloof and indifferent. He seems insensitive toward the genuine concerns about big flaws in the health-care reform.
USA Today media writer Rem Rieder put it well. He had no problem with Obama appearing on Zach Galifianakis’ faux talk show, “Between Two Ferns.” Going to where the 20-somethings are makes perfect sense as a way to boost registration for the ACA. But Rieder railed against the president, who has pledged transparency, for preferring to talk to Comedy Central and “The View” over The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Serious legislation requires serious dialogue, not just laughs.
▶ Making Good Bad: Addressing the uninsured and pre-existing illnesses is the headline of Obamacare. It is what makes the issue debatable. But there is something wrong when a self-insured program such as Kwik Trip’s, which works well for its 11,000 employees, is threatened.
▶ Consumer Appeal: Only one-fourth of people who have enrolled in the ACA are in the 18-to-34 age bracket, and the bulk of enrollees are middle-aged. Is this really a shocker? We know that the younger you are, the more invincible you feel. So why is the administration surprised? Where are the campus programs? Where is the targeted marketing? Where were the conversations with the young to find out what they want? Where was the homework?
▶ Politics: Let’s end the talk of repealing Obamacare. It’s the law of the land and it passed legally and had enough public support.
However, it should come as little surprise that many Democratic lawmakers are tiptoeing around Obamacare as they face a potential bloodblath this fall with a rather mediocre Republican Party. It is not surprising that incumbent Democrats in swing states don’t want Obama campaigning with them, nor do they want the mantel of health-care reform around their neck. If anything, ACA is a noose.
In short, Obamacare needs to be fixed—big time.
But what about us? Does bad government become our excuse not to be best in class? Can we do what’s best for our employees and best for our businesses in spite of Washington?
Mike Thornbrugh’s response is the best I’ve seen in any industry. Asked about Obamacare, Thornbrugh, QuikTrip’s spokesman, in effect responds that he doesn’t care.
“Our employees follow the news, they hear about other companies cutting back hours—QuikTrip’s not doing that, so it’s a huge morale booster,” Thornbrugh told CSP. “The only reason QuikTrip is successful is because of our employees. We’re going to take care of them regardless of what the federal government does.”
In the end, it’s less about Obamacare, and more about us.