What Was Missed In The Debate Over Obamacare

Between false promises and talk of death panels, no one, not even reform’s critics, saw some of these problems coming.

What Was Missed In The Debate Over Obamacare
The White House / Pete Souza

​Over the past four years, the president has had a lot to say about health care reform.

OBAMA: “It will provide security and stability … would not add to our deficit … slow the growth of health care costs … ” (Via The White House)

​But the problems now plaguing the president’s signature law deal with aspects he did not talk about. In fact, no one, not even his critics, harped on the simple sacrifice many middle class families would need to pay to get more Americans covered. This week’s National Journal magazine cover story by James Oliphant looks at what was lost in the debate over Obamacare.

OLIPHANT: “When trying to sell a product, you don’t talk about the negatives. You don’t say that some people are going to suffer. … He dressed it up in a lot of other ways, talking about cost containment, talking about reducing the deficit, talking about helping the economy. Simply put, if he had made it about sacrifice, if he had said, ‘Listen, all of us have to give a little bit more so that some people can get coverage,’ I don’t think that would have worked out very well for the administration.” 

A United Technologies and National Journal poll released this week revealed one especially big problem for Obamacare — that many more people believe reform will benefit the poor than it will middle class Americans, the very people the White House needs in its health exchanges. (Via National Journal)

It’s a structural flaw in the program glossed over by even the most vehement opponents of the law from the start. (Via CBS)

OLIPHANT: “First of all, remember that in 2009, the Tea Party was so fixated on end-of-life care, the death panels, or being able to keep your doctor that some of the more subtle points about how the ACA would work were lost in the shuffle.”

Still, the obituaries being written for Obamacare now are premature. Costs are higher for many Americans — and that’s not what the president promised. But Obamacare’s focus has always been on the long term.

OLIPHANT: “We will see a trend in coming years and decades. And the supporters of the ACA have always said, ‘You’ve got to stand back and let this thing work.’ And we’re not going to know for years, basically, if everything the president said is actually going to happen.”