Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Government Shutdown and Negotiations
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims at instituting reforms in the healthcare sector. It focuses on improving accessibility and provision of healthcare coverage, controlling care costs and improving the quality of healthcare delivery in the United States. However, its implementation has faced significant challenges that have affected all stakeholders, including the federal government. In the past few weeks, Republicans held President Obama’s administration at ransom, demanding that the government should support their bid to make changes to the controversial law. The government retaliated by shutting down its operations, and blaming the opposition for paralyzing is activities. Unwillingness to engage in negotiations, especially by the government, worsened the situation.
Due to several challenges and significant opposition from a section of politicians, the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed over three years ago, has fallen behind schedule. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GOP), the federal government is ill equipped to implement the Act fully before the December 2013 deadline, during which there will be an open enrollment for ObamaCare exchanges (6). The major obstacle that has faced the implementation of the Act has been inadequate and unsuccessful negotiations between the federal government and other stakeholders.
With increasing concerns that the Obama administration will not be able to implement the Act fully within the short timeline, questions have been raise on how stakeholders, especially American citizens, are going to be affected by the failures of the federal government. According to Gobry, Republicans demanded for a one-year delay in the implementation of the Protection and Affordable Care Act (1). Conversely, the government, under the leadership of President Obama, refused to surrender to the opposition’s demands. The president stated that the implementation process was non-negotiable, and will proceed and earlier planned. In retaliation, a section of republicans, through GOP, refused to assent the government’s budget. They demanded for the government to make changes to its budget proposal, and alter sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before it could support federal financial plans. In exchange for assenting to a budget that would fund government operations for the net few months, the opposition were demanding for the elimination or delay of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act implementation.
In return, Obama’s administration enforced a partial shutdown that paralyzed provision of services by the federal government. To create a temporal crisis, the government ordered all federal employees across the United States not to report to work. It used GOP and the opposition as scapegoats, accusing them of paralyzing the government’s ability to finance its operations. A standoff between Democrats and Republicans took more than one month after the government refused to bow down to the opposition’s demands for the postponement on the Act implementation. As the counter accusations intensified, the struggling American economy continued to worsen. More than 800,000 non-essential federal government employees were suspended without pay. In addition, many agencies that depended on government funding, such as Homeland Security, were also paralyzed temporarily due to constrained budgets. Finally, the political standoff creased tension in the business sector because many investors were cautious to investing in the American Economy due to the uncertainties. Because of the shutdown, the economy lost more than $55 billion in less than a month (Yan and Cohen 1). However, the Obama administration seemed to have won the battle after GOP changed its initial stance, and decided to support the government. GOP noticed that for the opposition needed to marshal a two-thirds majority that is required to alter changes in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they had to win the support of Democratic politicians (Davis 1). It realized that this would not be possible, and the standoff would have continued because Democrats were determined to implement the new law without any alterations (Davis 2).
In the modern society, negotiations are very crucial in building and sustaining a civilized society. Conflicts are inevitable in a political life because the opposition’s main purpose for existence is to ensure that the government is accountable for its actions. The recent events in the United
States proved that despite the difficulty involved with its practice, political compromise is very crucial in a democratic government. Despite their might or political influence, governments and oppositions must be willing to engage in talks aimed at identifying solutions that would benefits both parties. However, an important aspect in political negotiation is open mindedness. Each party must be willing to soften their current stances to accommodate the needs of other stakeholders (Gutmann and Thompson 23).
Many Republicans have opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act since its inception. There have been several unsuccessful attempts by Republican led opposition to delete or alter the new law. However, their latest strategy to force the government to alter the law was completely unacceptable. Freezing government funds did not only affect government operations, also the lives of millions of Americans. Despite the inefficiencies in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it was ethical and unjust for Republicans and GOP to delay funding with the aim of forcing the government to change it decision to favor the opposition. During the second week of the shutdown, the president relaxed his initial stance and stated that he was willing to engage in negotiations, but not under the pressure and intimidation from the opposition. President Obama said that he would engage in talks with Republicans only after they accented to the government’s budget proposal.
Furthermore, the government initial stance that the issue was non-negotiable was completely intolerable. It is evident that the implementation of the controversial Act is behind schedule, and inefficiencies in the process might be disastrous to the lives of the people it intended to improve. The government should accept the reality, and negotiate with the opposition and other stakeholders to identify ways on how the process can be improved. Unwillingness by President Obama to engage in talks might have forced the opposition to opt for the devious strategies they later adapted to hold the federal government at ransom. A section of the opposition that sought to the delay the implementation process had all the right to do so because the government cannot afford making any mistakes in the healthcare industry.
However, the demands by extreme Republican conservatives for the complete deletion of the new law can be classified as selfish and unjust. If successfully implemented, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will improve the lives of many America families, who cannot afford the current costs associated with healthcare services. For a fair negotiation process, the government and the opposition must be willing to soften their stances. Democrats must be able to accept that the implementations process is behind schedule and needs more time to ensure that it is carried out properly. Conversely, Republicans, especially extreme conservatives, must be willing to support government’s efforts in implement their policies. The ObamaCare is one of the reasons why the President Obama won the election. As a result, Republicans should respect the President’s policies because they represent the will of American citizens.
The healthcare industry is
undoubtedly one of the most crucial sectors in any economy. Unlike other
industries, it is concerned with the lives of people. Any slight inefficiency
might result to the loss of millions of innocent lives. Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act aims at improving the lives of American citizens. It is
very important that all stakeholders should cooperate to see that it is
implemented successfully. Therefore, it was very unfair for the Democrats and
Republicans to turn the implementation process into a playground for political supremacy.
All insurers, healthcare service providers and politicians, despite their affiliation,
must be willing to engage in negotiation so that the new law can be implemented
successfully and realize its original purpose. The federal shutdown, which
resulted due to the standoff between Democrats and Republicans, only led to time
wastage that delayed the implementation process. Furthermore, the government
and the opposition should realize that the impact of their battle for political
supremacy goes beyond time wastage. The American economy is affected severely
due to political uncertainties that prevent businesses from investing in the United States.
Davis, Susan. “GOP Piecemeal Plan to Mitigate Shutdown Fails in House.” USA Today. USA Today, 2 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
Gobry, Pascal. “Why the Republicans are Right to Shutdown the Government over ObamaCare.” Forbes. Forbes, 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
Gutmann, Amy, and Dennis Thompson. The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.
US Government Accountability Office. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Status of CMS Efforts to Establish Federally Facilitated Health Insurance Exchanges. Report to Congressional Requesters. Washington, DC: US Government Accountability Office, 2013. Print.
Yan, Holly and Tom Cohen. “Latest House Bid Fails as Bitter Back-and Forth over Government Shutdown Rages.” CNN. CNN, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.