A 4-Part Plan to Reboot Obamacare

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 10:06 AM

By Doug Schoen

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“I personally believe, even if it takes a change in the law, that the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they’ve got,” President Clinton said recently.
 
With those words, Clinton undermined the president more than any Republican has managed to in the last three years since the Affordable Care Act was passed.
 
Within hours the White House sprang into action. Jay Carney said that the president agreed with Clinton, despite his apology last week for having spent years lying to the American public about this very issue.
 
What’s even more disturbing is not the president’s about face, but that he has spent the last few weeks arguing that he is unwilling to work with Republicans who have been advocating exactly the same approach. So much for bipartisanship.  
 
It’s official: Obamacare is a failure.
 
Data released in The Wall Street Journal yesterday showed that only 50,000 Americans have signed up while the administration has been touting a 500,000-person enrollment goal for October. Reuters is reporting that Obamacare has reached only 3 percent of its enrollment target for 2014 in 12 states.
 
“Hold me accountable for the debacle. I am responsible,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House committee. And while I appreciate Secretary Sebelius’ willingness to take responsibility, we’re past the point where blame and pointing fingers will do us any good.
 
We need a fresh start with healthcare. Going back to square one is the only way we’re going to make any progress. We still have an opportunity, albeit a waning one, to make this right.
 
The way I see it, the White House needs to do four things.
 
First, they have to delay the individual mandate for a year as 10 Democrat senators, led by Jeanne Shaheen, have requested. With the way the rollout has gone thus far, I don’t see how the White House has any choice.
 
Second, it’s imperative that they delay the penalty for Americans who have not signed up in 2014. Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Mark Kirk have introduced new legislation that would push back the $95 penalty for the individual mandate to 2015, which must be considered and passed.
 
Third, the White House needs to take down the website. No more of these on-the-go fixes that don’t work. Just take the thing down and fix it. As frustration continues to mount with glitches and technical problems, the situation only gets worse.
 
Fourth, the White House and Democrats need to work with the Republicans on some free-market fixes. They should look at allowing across-market insurance purchases, tort reform, and some utilization for people to buy private insurance as part of the options offered.
 
And of course, the president should find a way to keep his word that those Americans who like their plans can keep their plans. It doesn’t matter to me how or why he finally decided that he has to make good on this promise at this point. All that counts is that he does it.
 
In light of last week’s elections, the speculation about what Obamacare means for 2014 and 2016 has already begun. Top Democrats like Mary Landrieu in Louisiana have been eschewing the opportunity to appear with the president — a clear comment on the popularity of Obama and his hallmark bill.
 
Poll numbers show that Terry McAuliffe lost three to four percentage points from the final poll averages to his ultimate vote share because of his support of the president’s healthcare bill. And solid majorities in both Virginia and New Jersey are against Obamacare. According to yesterday’s Rasmussen numbers, 55 percent of Americans favor the repeal of Obamacare.
 
Politicians on both sides of the aisle know that Obamacare is going to be the watershed issue in the upcoming elections. The president met with 16 anxious Democratic senators last week to assuage their fears over the Obamacare site, but also the role the troubled healthcare law will play in upcoming elections.
 
Only five Democratic senators who are up for re-election did not attend the meeting. And with eight or nine vulnerable seats, the future of the Democratic Party is very much tied to the president’s healthcare bill.
 
Beyond individual races, the president’s troubled bill will most certainly affect Hillary Clinton, her decision to run, and her chances. If a Democratic majority in the Senate is wiped out, Obamacare will be a millstone hung around her neck. It will revive concerns about Hillarycare, a burden she may very well not want to take on.
 
It follows that the problems with the Obamacare rollout are not confined to what is going on today, tomorrow, or the next day. It will have drastic implications for the future of the Democratic Party if this botched program is not reformed immediately.
 
A fresh start is the only way forward.
 
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist, Fox News contributor, and author of several books including the recently released "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond" (Rowman and Littlefield). Read more reports from Doug Schoen — Click Here Now.
 
 

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