This week, the House of Representatives will once again vote on a bill that has little prospect of passage in the Senate and has zero chance of being signed by the President if it were to succeed. By some counts, this is the 37th time Congress will hold a vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). So if everyone agrees that it is likely to fail to become law, why should anyone care?
The NAM did not support the ACA when it was passed by Congress and signed by the President three years ago. Generally, implementation of the law over the past three years has been disappointing. As we reach the mid-point of 2013, the implementation process has become downright alarming, which is no doubt a factor behind the vote the House of Representatives will take on Thursday to repeal the ACA.
In less than five months, beginning on October 1, 2013, Americans are supposed to have access to health insurance through state exchanges that meet the criteria set out by the ACA. Some states are setting up their own exchanges and some are just letting the federal government do it, but that’s not really the issue that’s sounding alarms and feeding anxieties among consumers and businesses alike.
With less than five months before this program goes live, there is a lot we don’t know:
- What products are available?
- What are the prices for those products?
- How do consumers get coverage?
- How much will the federal subsidies cover?
- How do we compare plans offered?
- Who do I call with questions?
- What is the impact on employer-sponsored coverage?
We don’t seem to be getting very many answers from the department in charge of putting this thing together- unless you consider planning a major public relations campaign an acceptable strategy for implementation. Most people don’t have confidence a public relations campaign will do the trick.
Ultimately, that’s the meaning of the vote being taken by the House of Representatives on Thursday – it is a vote of no-confidence. It is a firm and unambiguous statement of position on a major revision of federal law that will be confronting us not only in the months ahead, but also for many years to come. That is why the NAM supports a piece of legislation that has failed 37 times – and why everyone else should be paying close attention too.
Joe Trauger is vice president of human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.