McGrath: Patience, America: Obamacare worth the wait
By David McGrath email@example.com November 16, 2013 4:49PM
Updated: December 27, 2013 5:16PM
It sounded too good to be true. My new outboard motor was hyped by the manufacturer as faster, lighter, quieter, more fuel efficient and less polluting than my old, beat-up one.
With great anticipation, I turned the key to start it humming, pushed down the throttle, and the 90-hp motor sprang to life with a powerful rumble. I felt the wind on my face as the bow of the boat began to rise, but it suddenly flopped back down with what sounded like a wheeze.
The motor was running, but no matter what I tried I couldn’t get it past idle speed. I finally gave up and puttered back to the dock.
The mechanic said it was an electrical problem that would require a new circuit board. I feared I had made a big mistake in purchasing a revolutionary new product and asked the mechanic if I should exchange it for a more conventional engine.
“I’ve seen a lot of these flawed circuit boards,” he said. “Once you get past the electronics problem, you’ll love the engine itself.”
The same seems to be true with the new health care law, in which technical problems are impeding citizens from signing up. Critics, especially President Barack Obama’s Republican opponents, cite the computer bugs as cause for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be repealed.
But their objections to ACA are more partisan than practical. For we are all familiar with the old and true saying — do not throw out the baby with the bath water.
In the case of initially defective products, the manufacturer’s warranty essentially says the company believes in the integrity of its product and will replace “lemons” or fix bugs that impede the effective use of the product. Same with Obamacare.
Sarasota, Fla., attorney Grissim Walker initially found the ACA website a giant headache, and it took him more than 10 hours to finally register, as reported in the Sarasota Herald Tribune. But when he did, he got the plan he wanted for $435 per month — a savings of $165 per month over what he would have paid without the new law.
Who among us has not dawdled for hours on the computer, shopping for the best airfare or the perfect gift?
But the relevant point is the hypocrisy of partisan critics who forced a government shutdown or called for Obama’s impeachment over Obamacare. The messed-up software is not comparable to the dangerous or malicious screw-ups by the Republican Party, which require mentioning to make sure the noise the Republicans are making over the law does not scrap a program that’s ultimately good for the country.
The shoddy software for ACA, for example, is a mild setback when you remember the defective tools shipped to our soldiers in Iraq, such as those flimsy Humvees that couldn’t stop a single IED. And an ACA website with insufficient capacity cannot compare launching the Iraq War with an insufficient number of troops and allowing it to drag on endlessly.
And the president’s incorrect predictions about being able to keep one’s doctor and medical coverage through the ACA are minor errors next to false statements by the Bush administration about all those weapons of mass destruction stockpiled in Iraq, which did not exist.
The ACA foul-up is a computer system glitch worsened by bureaucratic fumbling, but not at all like those tragically wrong war decisions that killed thousands of our soldiers and cost America hundreds of billions of dollars.
Obamacare is a historic, hopeful initiative to help all Americans. It fixes an unfair system in which roughly 44 million Americans had no health insurance and one in which many of those who were insured found it necessary to hold a fundraiser if someone in the family got seriously ill.
It took a week before I could retrieve my boat and motor from the repair facility. I’m relieved to report that the engine is running like the proverbial Swiss watch. And, as per the maintenance manual recommendations, I haven’t had to spend a dime on it in nearly three years.
David McGrath, a former resident of Evergreen Park and Oak Forest, is an emeritus professor of English at the College of DuPage.