Let's keep our eye on the health care ball -- and not on all the partisan bickering.
The reasons for the Affordable Care Act were unassailable. By last count, 48 million people or more were without basic health insurance coverage. Many could not get insurance because they had pre-existing conditions. For them, this was a matter of life, and, most likely, death. So, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it.
The leaders of the Republican Party have remained staunchly opposed to it, as have right-wing funders such as the Koch brothers. So when President Obama fumbled the rollout on Oct. 1, his enemies jumped all over it.
The website, healthcare.gov, didn't work well. Many who wanted to purchase insurance coverage couldn't do so right away. The site is working better now but the damage has been done.
The projected enrollments, at least initially, have been far less than expected by the Obama administration. Those who oppose expanded health coverage probably guzzled champagne when the dismal numbers were released.
To add insult to injury, reports of many policy cancellations began to dominate the news cycle and have been used as ammunition by those who hate the law.
Yes, the cancellations are disappointing, as are the increased rates that a relatively few are having to pay. But almost everyone will now have an opportunity to get better insurance than they had before. And for the 48 million who never had coverage, the Affordable Care Act is a godsend. That's why it's been so well received even in red states like Kentucky.
To be sure, Obama made a number of mistakes in the selling of the Affordable Care Act.
One was his unfortunate embrace of the name Obamacare. He should have rejected that. It's not about him. It's about providing decent, affordable health insurance to every American.
And, of course, he never should have promised people they could keep their current health plan if they wanted to. This wasn't what the Affordable Care Act said. And the virtues of the Affordable Care act far transcended such a promise, anyway.
Obama should get back to selling those virtues.
Forty-eight million people without health insurance and discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions: These facts are much more disturbing than a botched government rollout of a law that will actually do some good if it is allowed to work.
Brian Gilmore is a poet and public interest lawyer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Brian Gilmore.
Photo: Flickr user Fotos GOVBA, creative commons licensed.