This week, my employees opened their mailbox to find a letter informing them that the Blue Cross Blue Shield health care plan we had chosen to offer them had been discontinued – thanks entirely to the Affordable Care Act. Since President Obama signed this bill into law nearly four years ago, I’ve written about it several times, focusing on its astronomical costs, massive expansion of government powers, and disastrous rollout.
But I had never fully grasped the law’s human costs until now.
President Obama has spent the last seven years traveling around the country, meeting ordinary Americans like my employees and telling them that they need to get covered. The president claimed he was going to act to make health insurance affordable, accessible, and available to all. Many who heard his message voted for him because they believed in the power of health insurance to deliver wellness and financial stability to their families.
[sharequote align=”center”]But I had never fully grasped the law’s human costs until now.[/sharequote]
But after Obama swept into office, the cracks in his health care plan started to show – as did the president’s fatal flaw. Americans steadily and decisively turned against Obamacare as they learned about the bill and the political sausage-making behind it. But Obama rammed the the law through in the middle of the night anyway, showing himself to be more concerned with his name and his legacy than the middle-class, uninsured Americans he professed to care about.
When the law took effect this fall, it failed – from the disastrous launch of the exchange websites to the sad news my employees will have to share with their families over dinner. The country called out for a leader to take the wheel and right the course, and Obama was interested in being anything but. Instead of taking the high road and acting pragmatically to allow Americans to keep their insurance, Obama forged ahead, willfully ignoring the pain his law was inflicting.
Although my employees are just a few of the nearly five million Americans now without insurance, they are more than statistics. They’re people who are facing major surgeries and months of rehabilitation. And now they don’t know whether they’ll be able to afford it. They’re people caring for newborn babies and toddlers with ear infections, whoa re unsure whether they’ll be able to keep working with their family pediatricians. Some of them are young people who would be able, thanks to Obamacare, to go back on their parents’ health plans – if their parents don’t get their own cancellation notices.
As an employer, I felt like a failure when I saw the cancellation notice. As any leader would, I feel an obligation to the men and women who come into my office and work tirelessly every day because they believe in my cause. It’s not enough for me to pay these people a salary – I want them to thrive. I want them to be proud to work for my organization, and I feel frankly ashamed that I can no longer offer them the health insurance plan that they rely on.
But my feelings of shame have given way to anger, because I’m not the leader who failed my employees. Rather, it’s Washington’s failure – and it stems from Obama’s hubris.
Obamacare says that the government, and not me, ought to be able to decide what health plan my organization offers. The law tells my employees that federal bureaucrats, and not them, decide how much insurance they carry and what doctor they can see. In the president’s eyes, health care reform may be some grand experiment that progresses us toward his ideal society, but to the rest of us, it’s the pain and shame that comes from having control over our health care ripped out of our hands.
The story of Obamacare is a story of small businesses and cancelled plans and struggling families, but it’s also the story of its architect. From his promises on the campaign trail in 2008 to the ongoing health care crisis of 2014, we’ve seen Barack Obama reduced from an orator and champion of the middle class to an ineffective leader lacking the humility and courage to admit that he was wrong. The president has inextricably tied healthcare reform to his legacy, and both sink further into the abyss each time another working American loses his insurance.
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