The Sun Journal of Lewiston (Maine), Nov. 15, 2013
The White House is receiving a sound trashing at the hands of Congress for the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act's website.
It has been an embarrassing disappointment, and we have said so ourselves.
So what's next?
Move on? Hardly.
House Republicans will continue to investigate the site's failings until it either works or until something more outrageous comes along.
One congressional critic really put things in perspective when he likened the roll-out to a rocket that blew up on the launch pad.
That is so sad. And so true.
But it probably reminded many Americans with long memories of something else.
Rockets? Launch pads? Exactly how many U.S. rockets blew up on the launch pad until we finally put a man on the moon? A lot. In fact, in 1967 three astronauts were killed in a launch pad accident.
Failure usually walks hand-in-hand with progress, and doing really big things guarantees setbacks and struggle.
It's been a long time, and there have been a thousand distractions, accusations, a near default and a 16-day government shutdown, and that's just been this year.
So, let's remember what this moon-shot was all about.
For a decade or more, Americans had been complaining about a health care system that costs too much, produces poor results, bankrupts sick people and leaves millions of our fellow Americans without access to consistent care.
And the Republican response to all these critical problems has been ...
Well, only one actual response comes to mind -- the highly successful Massachusetts health care plan, proposed by a Republican governor and enacted by a bipartisan legislature.
That plan was first proposed by a Republican think tank that reasoned everyone should be required to buy health insurance or to make an honest attempt to do so.
That was, obviously, because the system could only work if everyone who might need health insurance participated.
It was like requiring car owners to have insurance whether they had an accident or not.
This approach seemed logical until Barack Obama picked up the ball and started running with it.
So, now, it's probably a little hard to remember where this rocket ship was going. Why was this law passed in the first place?
1 -- So people did not suffer and die as a result of having no insurance. That happens to about 20,000 people a year. In September, Sen. Angus King explained how his own life was saved by insurance that resulted in early detection of an often-fatal form of skin cancer.
2 -- To provide access to health care for people with previous conditions. Insurance companies, bless their hearts, had generally refused to help very sick people.
3 -- To make sure Americans were spared from losing their homes, savings and financial futures because of a serious illness.
4 -- To allow Americans up to 26 years of age to remain on their parents' insurance policy so they can get their lives up and running.
5 -- To help bend the health care cost curve by rewarding high quality care that keeps the sickest among us as healthy as possible and out of the hospital.
6 -- To make sure Americans have access to affordable health insurance if they lose their job, or leave it to start their own company.
7 -- To expand Medicaid coverage to Americans who cannot afford to buy insurance at all, even though they work and are above the poverty level.
8 -- To reduce the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" prescription gap.
There's more, but which parts of that aren't worth doing?
Like our space program of decades ago, the goals are very difficult to obtain. If they were easy, we would have done this long ago.
The law clearly isn't perfect, and it must improve. The process is messy, and it will disappoint some. The website is clearly a huge disappointment.
But what's the alternative? To do none of the above, or nothing at all?
Some Republicans are committed to destroying the Affordable Care Act at all cost.
They are very good rock throwers. While that's invigorating sport, developing a better alternative, or working to fix the problems with Obamacare, might be more useful.