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Quick out of gate; ‘glitchy’ in long run

The Affordable Care Act was passed without sufficient scrutiny and vetting

Posted: July 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.

The Affordable Healthcare Act – so-called Obamacare – seems to be having some troubles these days. The Obama Administration decided to delay the implementation of the employer mandate portion of the law until after the elections in 2014. The House last week voted to delay the individual mandate, although the Senate is not expected to take up the measure. On Thursday, President Obama acknowledged some “glitches” in the law’s rollout.

That’s what happens when legislation is passed without sufficient scrutiny and vetting.

The debate about whether Obamacare is good or bad will last for decades. But our immediate issue with this health care debate is about what happens when government at any level lacks transparency. Transparency is a necessity of democracy.

It does not surprise us that the Affordable Care Act may not be so affordable, or provisions like the employer mandate are too complicated to be implemented. Nor does it surprise us that key provisions like the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act won’t produce the savings originally projected by the Obama administration. These issues and issues yet to come concerning Obamacare have come about because this act was passed by a Congress that literally did not read the mammoth bill.

The final nearly 2,000-page bill was unveiled just hours before the final vote in the House. Then Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said at that time in an infamous statement: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Obamacare arguably is the most important piece of social legislation since the Civil Rights Act or, perhaps, the implementation of Social Security – and it was passed in the middle of the night by a Congress that did not have a chance to read the entire bill.

When you don’t have appropriate transparency, when you don’t have responsible vetting, when you exclude the media and the public from a monumental piece of legislation throughout much of the process, this is what you get.

The people who point to the good things about the Affordable Care Act are right. The people who point out the bad things in the Affordable Care Act are also right. Now the lack of responsible adult discourse and transparency may unnecessarily create the “train wreck” that current House Speaker John Boehner predicts. Obamacare is very much an imperfect piece of legislation – and that is in part because it was not vetted properly. The 2,000-page bill is still producing surprises.

We have railed in the past against Sacramento’s affinity for “gut and amend” bills, secret, unconnected riders and loosely defined emergency legislation. These actions are also about avoiding transparency. Keeping the people and the media out of government or confused about it does not improve it.



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