President Obama and Congressional Democrats controlling both chambers eventually filled this policy void in 2010, ramming through the Affordable Care Act on straight party line votes.
What we have seen since has been the polarization of American politics and, now, the chaotic rollout of Obamacare.
President Obama’s administration has not only botched the initial implementation of this sprawling reform with a dysfunctional website, but the President misled Americans into believing that they could stay on existing plans, though many of these plans are rip-offs.
And we have watched Republican public servants - from our Congressional delegation to Gov. Mike Pence (who could have championed market-based health care reform as a Member of Congress from 2001 to 2012) - use their offices to undermine the reforms. Pence opted to put Hoosiers into the federal health exchange, instead of creating one of our own. A year ago, candidate Pence was saying, “I’ll fight for the right of every Hoosier to run our schools, buy our healthcare, and build our roads the Hoosier way. ... To make Indiana the state that works, we must have a governor who’s willing to say yes to Indiana and no to Washington.”
On virtually every other issue, Pence has been critical of federal government involvement. This time, it was a strategy to kill off the reforms. His Department of Insurance became a font of propaganda, inflating the potential costs of coming plans in a distorted and widely panned analysis.
Congress refused to confirm an Obama appointee to direct the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, which play a huge role in implementation. Indiana University Prof. Aaron Carroll, who heads its Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research, wrote in a column for CNN: “When (HHS Secretary) Sebelius tried to shift money from other areas to help do what needed to be done, she was attacked by Senate Republicans. At every step, Republicans fought measures to get money to put towards implementation.”