Friday, October 25, 2013

The Affordable Care Act

The ongoing frenzy declaring the Affordable Care Act a fiasco (or train wreck, etc.) which must be abandoned, leaves completely unacknowledged the fiasco that is our current health care system. Alone among all other developed countries of the world, the United States fails to provide health care to millions of its citizens. At the same time, our system results in far higher costs and poorer health outcomes than these other countries. It is widely acknowledged, even among conservatives, that this ever worsening scenario is unsustainable.

The ACA is the first honest attempt in decades to take action to fix this travesty. It is a huge and incredibly complicated task. Yes, federal bureaucracy is subject to burdensome rules and constrained resources that can make the process less than efficient. And it is made all the more difficult by the political headwinds created by opponents who want to see this effort fail at all costs (the same ones, by the way, who are trying to erode Medicare and Social Security).

Private industry has had its chance to be in charge of running this country's health care system. With thousands of uninsured dying needlessly and record numbers going into bankruptcy due to health care costs, it is obvious that we need to try something else. The private insurance marketplaces that have been set up by the ACA are the best thing we have going to achieve better health care for all Americans. We have something to learn from other countries who take better care of their citizens' health (all of whose governments have a hand in their health care systems to varying degrees). Improving and perfecting what we have started should be our goal. It will take a lot of patience and work. Simply tearing down this effort gets us nowhere.