Help wanted: A Congress capable of fixing things

BN-NZ206_0511ae_J_20160511144541

(AP)

Health-insurance giant Aetna announced this week that it will no longer sell ObamaCare policies through exchanges here in Georgia and 10 other states, a decision that will force an estimated 900,000 policyholders throughout the country to turn to another provider.

According to Aetna, the withdrawal is purely business. Those buying insurance through the exchanges have required more medical care than predicted, says Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, making it difficult to turn a profit. Not surprisingly, opponents of ObamaCare have jumped on Aetna’s decision as evidence that the program’s long-predicted demise has finally arrived.

ObamaCare defenders tell a different story. They claim that Aetna’s decision amounts to political retribution after the U.S. Justice Department decided last month to block its lucrative, $37 billion merger with another insurance giant, Humana. They can also cite some powerful evidence in support of that claim. In a July 5 letter uncovered by Huffington Post, Aetna’s CEO promised the Justice Department that if the controversial merger was approved, his company would expand its coverage into five more states.

On the other hand, “if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint.” UPDATE: Adding further fuel to the retribution theory, swing-state Pennsylvania is one of the markets that Aetna has abandoned, claiming it can’t make a profit. Yet by its own numbers, it DOES make a profit in Pennsylvania.

I think it’s probable that both stories have some degree of truth. While Aetna’s decision may indeed have been motivated in part by anger at the Justice Department, there’s also no denying that the financial issues raised by the company are real, and that other large insurers report a similar experience.

So what now? In a functional system, the natural response to problems like this would be to fix the problems. Human beings have done this kind of thing — see problem, fix problem — for millions of years, and we are perfectly capable of doing it this time too.

But here’s the catch: Our mechanism to fix problems of this sort is itself broken. We have a useless Congress that has voted some 60 times to repeal ObamaCare but it has yet to draft, let alone vote upon, a single proposal to replace it. We have a Congress that under current leadership would rather destroy the system, stripping health insurance from tens of millions of their own constituents — children, grandparents, cancer patients, accident victims — than enact somewhat simple corrective measures.

The fact that such adjustments are needed seven years after ObamaCare’s passage isn’t evidence of failure. It’s inevitable, because nobody gets it right the first time. Medicare required legislative adjustments; Social Security required legislative adjustments. Back in the early ’80s, when Social Security faced serious issues, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a Democrat, worked with President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, to fix it and put Social Security on a more secure financial footing.

In the private sector, our computers today run on Windows 10 and Apple’s Version 10.12 because previous versions had to updated and expanded and because unpredicted glitches arose that had to be fixed. It is simply impossible to identify all of the weaknesses of any product, system or organization until it is released out into the wild and forced to function under real-life conditions.

So if Congress can’t fix it, I guess we need a new Congress.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

1113 comments
Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Oh yeah. Dem/Libs like to use the term "dog whistle" so they can smugly inform every one what the Pub/Cons are really thinking and really saying. Well, two can play that game.


Now that Obamacare is starting to come unraveled (like, duh, like who would have ever expected something like that to happen?), have you heard the Dem/Lib "dog whistles" blowing?  Yes. We need to "fix it."  The government needs to "fix it."  That dysfunctional Republican Congress needs to "fix it" -- Never mind that it was created behind closed doors with absolutely no Republican input by a totally partisan and dysfunctional Democrat Congress. S now it's the Republican's fault. They need to help "fix it" -- tweet, tweet, tweet . . . can you hear the whistles blowing. Bookman and then Krugman (same thing) in this morning's printed paper. 


"Fix it," i.e. the government takes more money from one group of people and gives it to another. Or, these days, as Maggie Thatcher once cautioned - sooner or later you run out of other people's money - the government just creates and prints more money out of thin air and does whatever it wants to do with it - thereby increasing the ginormous national debt for everyone and helping to create (when it gets here)  the biggest financial melt down in the history of the world. 


It's easy. Let's just "fix it." Tweet, tweet, tweet . . . . . 

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Absolutely correct. It is amazing that Dem/Libs like Bookman can get so pious and holier than thou over 100% partisan legislation that was created and passed like Obamacare was. 


No legislation of any kind for any reason with that kind of scope, expense, and impact on the private lives of all Americans and created completely by one party should have ever been passed - and  passed by a razor thin margin using procedural smoke and mirrors, but it was. 


It was a complete and total cram down because the Dems had a once in a life  time opportunity, and there was no way that they were going to let the Dem/Lib dream of socialized medicine fade away. 


I recall one meeting with Congressional Republicans. Obama and Pelosi and Reid listened politely to their ideas and suggestions. Then it was "Okay. Now that that is over, see ya. We will now take it all in there . . . . behind those big thick, wooden (but completely "transparent" closed doors), and we'll handle it from here." And they did. 


And now they want help fixing it. The fact that it is starting to come apart should not be a big surprise to them or anyone. Perhaps they should have foreseen that making fixes in the future would be necessary. Perhaps they should have proceeded differently, taking Republican input and passing the bill in a open and transparent fashion. Perhaps then, they could have expected some help when the inevitable problems started to arise.  

Grabski
Grabski

This is the plan that the Democrats unilaterally crammed down America's throat

Of course it is failing

Social Security was a bipartisan plan as was the Reagan fix

The Democrats are free to join the majority and fix it

They refuse to. Their call

We will fix it from the rubble of the collapse of their creation

Their call

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Yes, we do need a new Congress.  Vote Democratic across the board on November 8, 2016, folks.


Also, Americans need to start looking to a plan for Medicare for all citizens in which profit will not dominate the medical system in this nation.  Education of our citizens and medical care for all citizens must not be based on profit, imo.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

Yay New Ham-shuh

Ayotte gotta go tho

i think we got her

that seat is the bellwether

Grabski
Grabski

Too bad the election is in 11 weeks

JayBook
JayBook moderator

 "Or you could simply take the cowards way out and blame your incompetency on someone / anyone."

You mean like blaming it on rigged polling, rigged elections, rigged media? You mean like that, DiA?


Also, sheets.

lvg
lvg

@JayBook You mean like blaming ISIS on Obama when you have already admitted W started an unnecessary  civil war?

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@JayBook You know that someone is embarrassed to answer your question when they attempt rather feebly to answer you with a question of their own. I'm sure your parrots are thankful that you called, "sheets."  They just about are featherless on this subject.

Grabski
Grabski

Hilary was a cheerleader for that war. Trump opposed it

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

Or you could simply take the cowards way out and blame your incompetency on someone / anyone.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@DownInAlbany Can we agree that whatever system that gets implemented is going to need 71+ changes. Or are you pushing the Trump argument that it will get done so fast and so quick and so rapid and it will be so easy and so cheap. 

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Sums up Trumpet Republican's stance on reality.


Trump adviser Michael Cohen on Trump losing 'says who', Katrina Pierson 'Obama started war in Afghanistan', and Rudy Giuliani 'before Obama there were no attacks on America soil'.

lvg
lvg

Well the right wing conspiracy that Hillary claimed was trying to lynch Bill has a full posse now with a few deputies on the air like Limbaugh, herman Cain, Hannity, Mark Levin saddling up with them. Kelly Anne may bring her husband out of retirement along with his former saddle partners, Newt and Ken Star to lead the charge. 

Paula Jones and Lynda Tripp will be providing refreshments as the boys will be working up a sweat trying to lynch Hillary. Maybe even another cameo  appearance by gunslingers Comey and Gowdy.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@lvg Because all women who have been abused have a right to be heard, huh?

lvg
lvg

@DownInAlbany @lvg Yeah ole bill soiled Lynda Tripp's gf dress. Quite abusive. And Jones got a wad of cash for allegedly having to view his junk.

lvg
lvg

@DownInAlbany @lvg Yeah Bill would not even pay to clean her dress.He even gave her one of his special cigars.  Tell me when he threatened her in any way? 

lvg
lvg

@DownInAlbany @lvg Kinda like that Trump fellow who has been repeatedly sued for rape and sexual harassment. But Cons say rape is all subjective .

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@lvg @DownInAlbany The one where he supposedly raped a 13 year old girl about 20 years ago?  That's quite desperate of you.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@lvg @DownInAlbany Or the one that filed the lawsuit without legal representation?  Because no one would take it.  Oh, yeah, that's the same one.

Grabski
Grabski

You find multiple rape allegations funny?

lvg
lvg

@Up In Cleveland You mean the woman who was shrieking to lynch Hillary while the GOP mob was screaming kill or jail Hillary. She was a hot mess.

Grabski
Grabski

Hmmm. Paid democrat shill attacks Trump for the death of his son in a war Hilary championed

TetoLeo
TetoLeo

Out for a bit, since this site is not really compatible with mobile devices at times and got to be away from laptop

breckenridge
breckenridge

CNBC Augusts 16 - Losing confidence in Trump's ability to come back, Republican strategists for House and Senate races predict the party and its donors will increasingly shift resources toward down-ballot races. The Trump campaign, a top Senate Republican adviser said, "is so far off the rails that I don't know anyone who could make a case for investing money in the presidential" contest.

honested
honested

@breckenridge 

Unfortunately, that means more koch money polluting the Senate and House races.

Up In Cleveland
Up In Cleveland

@DownInAlbany @honested @breckenridge The Kochs have more than enough money and they've used it to get their grubby fingers on tons of local legislation, school boards, universities and state lawmakers. They and their money are a menace to democracy.

lvg
lvg

Was this meant to be a script for SNL? Congress fix something? They are too busy trying to lynch Hillary and make sure Putin gets all the help he needs from the GOP.

rimsky
rimsky

@lvg Roooonald (bring down that wall) is turning over in his grave

honested
honested

@lvg 

These days, pootie and the gop need all the help they can get from one another.

Grabski
Grabski

Thoughts on Hilary's failed Russian reset IVG please

honested
honested

I guess I should just refer to the Constitution and the clear verbiage that says anyone seeking medical care must pay an additional 20% of the costs for care to an artificial intermediary that provides nothing in the process.....


But I just can't find the verbiage.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

 The last thing a Democrat wants is a voter prospering  from a employer rather than uncle Sam's plantation.

-

You know what kind of plantation I'm for? 

I'm for a plantation that the workers take charge of themselves.  That would be the best kind of plantation of all: one that's no plantation at all.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@Donnie_Pinko 

Where everyone is an independent being, and everyone is their own boss?  Sounds like good, old American rugged individualism.

lvg
lvg

@Donnie_Pinko @Nick_Danger Agreed- GOP fat cats all made there money off government largesse like our boy Shady- 4 million in his pocket with an outstanding 74 million dollar Ga, tax lien forgiven so he can sell his business and earn $10,000 a month rent. When has anyone ever even gotten concerned about that ?