The Norman Transcript

July 18, 2013

Delaying health care reform

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — If you thought the controversy over health care reform would fade, you were wrong.

Yes, Republicans are still doing everything they can to emphasize their opposition to what has been dubbed Obamacare. But right now, it is the president and his administration that are giving critics legitimate reason to complain.

First, the Obama administration recently decided to delay implementation of one aspect of the reform measure that required employers with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance.

Then, the administration announced delays in a program intended to penalize smokers with higher insurance premiums. It seems to be part of a pattern of delays involving key aspects of health care reform.

The administration says the moves are necessary because of complexities with the law and to ensure it is properly implemented. Foes declare it’s because the massive measure is impractical and delays will prevent implementation of unpopular parts until after the 2014 congressional elections.

Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for delays in another major provision of the program, one that requires virtually all individuals to have some form of insurance. If they don’t have it through an employer, they have to obtain it on their own.

GOP lawmakers say if businesses get a break, so too should individuals.

We count ourselves among those who want health care reforms to work effectively.

If that means delays in some circumstances, so be it. This is a complicated measure and it shouldn’t go into place if the timing isn’t practical.

That said, we think the administration continues to do a horrible job explaining itself. Delays of major provisions serve only to compound confusion. At least, they create the impression health reform wasn’t ready for prime time.

And while we would support alternatives that focused on cost controls, we’re not seeing that from Republicans. Instead, the House GOP simply holds repeated votes to overturn Obamacare. That may play well in some circles, but it’s not leadership.

Many of the major provisions of health care reform — including those now being delayed — are intended to create fairness and equity when it comes to paying for health insurance, as well as making individuals more accountable for their role in the process. Whether or not it will work is still unclear.

But we do know the public needs to have some confidence in the whole process if it’s to have credibility. So far, that’s not happening.

— New Castle, Pa., News