Ethan: Can you believe the hysteria surrounding Obamacare? A few computer problems and a couple of people are going to be forced into better plans, and the media portrays it like the entire sky is falling.
Phil: Are you still celebrating from the symbolic legalization of pot in Portland, because I think you must be stoned if all you see is “a few computer problems” and “a couple of people” being forced into better plans. More like complete computer failure and incompetence driving millions from the health plans they want.
Ethan: Sigh, it appears you have drunk the same Kool-Aid our media drank.
Phil: The Kool-Aid of facts? Yes, indeed I have.
Ethan: The Kool-Aid of overreaction. True, the website rollout sucked, but 94 percent of private- and public-sector tech rollouts this size don’t go as planned and need time to be corrected.
Phil: Not anywhere close to this mess. Unfolding facts reveal the White House knew this mess was coming and proceeded anyway. Meanwhile, unlike the free market, I am required under penalty of law to buy this product and hence cannot choose to take my money elsewhere.
Ethan: Please. You don’t have to use the exchange and you don’t have to only purchase the policies offered there. Plus, you still have another five months to purchase it before any requirement kicks in. And, as we are seeing, the website is already functioning much better and is expected to be at 80 percent capacity by the end of this month. I’m not saying the rollout wasn’t rough, but this was more of a political problem than a policy problem.
Phil: Whatever kind of problem you want to call it, it is a nightmare. We are not talking about a video game; this is one-sixth of the American economy and citizens’ health care. When you take away people’s health care and force them into a plan not of their choosing, it gets personal.
Ethan: Again, your hysteria is overblown. Ninety-eight percent of the public is not affected by the provision that caused insurance companies to cancel plans. And the 2 percent that were affected are going to receive a better health care plan at the end of the day. That doesn’t appear to be a crisis to me.
Phil: You might want to exhale that wacky tobacky now. The website costs are north of $600 million and climbing, the business mandate has yet to be enforced, doctors haven’t seen their fees cut yet and premiums are rising rapidly.
Ethan: If I am on wacky tobacky, you must be smoking crack with Mayor Ford in Toronto. The website is not costing anywhere near $600 million (maybe a third of that, max) and out-of-pocket premium costs are not rising rapidly. Consumers will actually pay much less, thanks to the subsidies in Obamacare. Plus, once the system is fully implemented and millions more are in the system, then you’ll see prices come down even more.
Phil: Tell that to people feeling the current effects on their week-to-week lifestyle. To the governors and legislatures who will see their share of Medicaid push state budgets higher, causing demands for higher taxes. To the employers who must resist hiring new workers while all this sorts itself out. This is not a winning recipe.
Ethan: Patience, my crack-smokin’ friend. Patience. We are on our way to finally making health care a right in this country, just like it is in every other industrialized nation, and that takes hard work and patience to work through the tough spots.
Phil: Perhaps a topic for another column, but you need to show me where in the Constitution it says we have the right to have the federal government run our health care.
Ethan: Yes, a topic for another column. But, while not in our constitution, our declaration of independence does clearly extol the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Hard to achieve two out of three of those without basic health care.
Phil: Progressives who adore the notion of government running our health care have a challenge on their hands. Unless they accept the disturbing facts that this thing is in serious need of fixing, they will hurt the very people they claim to want to help (with other people’s money).
Ethan: Even if you were correct, your side is invested in failure. Why would we want to invite that mentality into the challenges Obamacare faces as it works out the kinks?
Phil: My side offered options and ideas every step of the way, trying to convince Democrats they were heading to this place. All were rejected and even vilified. What do you want us to do now?
Ethan: In the parlance of my fellow Portlanders: “Relax, smoke a bowl, and have a little faith.”