The Edmond Sun

July 18, 2013

New Castle, Pa., News: Delaying reform

The Other View
Special to The Sun

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — If you thought the controversy over health care reform would fade over time, 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 health 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 are quick to declare that 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. GOP lawmakers say that if businesses are getting a break, so too should individuals.

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

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

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.