WASHINGTON, D.C. — I don’t usually write about politics in this space. Today, I am making an exception.
I am in our nation’s capital, working. That is more than I can say for our national elected officials. They are playing around, practicing for the mid-term elections.
They are aided and abetted by the talking heads of the various cable news channels, most of which carry very little hard news or balanced analysis. The chattering class of punditrydom that fills the cable channels with endless spin seem to be more concerned with their standing on Washington’s totem pole of the powerful elite than they are with the veracity of information they report, as Mark Leibovich so artfully chronicled in his hugely entertaining takedown of the grasping, incestuous, inside the beltway way of life in “This Town”.
That nothing much is getting done does not mean that our lawmakers are all caught upwith the huge list of challenges that must be addressed. Hardly. Nothing is getting done because it has been decided by the politicians that doing nothing might afford one party an advantage over the other for the mid-term and 2016 general elections.
For most healthcare leaders, this whole Washington affair is one big frustration. Hoped for financial benefits from ACA to reduce the number of uninsured may not be realized, and that is a big concern as the inevitable Medicare cuts loom. Healthcare people know there are serious problems with Obamacare that need fixing. They also know that ACA is probably with us to stay and that to sit around and do nothing will yield an even worse outcome for America’s struggling healthcare industry.
Those political games aside, the President clearly misstated the truth when it came to the issue of whether American’s can keep their existing insurance and/or physician under his Affordable Care Act. The White House’s obvious lack of oversight and attention to detail for the rollout only makes matters worse — fuel for the GOP fire. Why fix a problem that is heaven sent for the next campaign, they must reason?
Most healthcare CIOs I know, believe that the botched implementation would have cost more than one person their job if this colossal foul up had occurred in a health system or hospital. However, in Washington, lack of accountability is a long-standing bipartisan tradition.
Looking across the political aisle, the Republicans are not blameless. In fact, they seem to gleefully embrace their finger pointing, clucking away because the President’s huge stumble seems to offset their self-inflicted damage in shutting down the government. Now the House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, has essentially said his chamber cannot proceed with the Senate’s immigration bill or any other matter because the President can no longer be trusted. That it was a Republican who made this excuse is not the point. If memory serves, the Democrats have used that same political excuse in the past.
There is a bigger truth that must not go unnoticed. Most Americans are underwhelmed with the performance of their government, left or right.
The vast majority of Americans appear to think that Congress — not the Democrats or Republicans – but Congress, is as full of it as a well-fed Thanksgiving turkey. Most Americans, if you believe the polls, want their bridges to be safe, their roads repaired, their borders secure and a return to sense of fair play for the working class and the least among us. If the healthcare bill is truly a mess, as the GOP claims, the voters want to know what the loyal opposition proposes to do to ensure access to safe and affordable care. Gutting ACA or repealing it without a cost effective alternative is a bad idea.
In short, most Americans want a better life, and they are right to believe that their elected representatives in Congress are not working to that end.
Given the explosion in government spending that will occur with Medicare over the next five to seven years, allowing healthcare costs to skyrocket unchecked because it gave one party a political advantage over another, will produce a more devastating challenge for hospitals and the nation.