But wait — hasn’t the administration delayed the employer mandate, which requires that large firms provide insurance to their employees? Yes, it has, and Republicans are trying to make it sound as if the employer mandate and the individual mandate are comparable. Some of them even seem to think that they can bully Mr. Obama into delaying the individual mandate too. But the individual mandate is an essential piece of the reform, which can’t and won’t be bargained away, while the employer mandate is a fairly minor add-on that arguably shouldn’t have been in the law to begin with.
I guess that after all the years of vilification it was predictable that Republican leaders would still fail to understand the principles behind health reform and that this would hamper their ability to craft an effective political response as the reform’s implementation draws near. But their rudest shock is yet to come. You see, this thing isn’t going to be the often-predicted “train wreck.” On the contrary, it’s going to work.
Oh, there will be problems, especially in states where Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage the implementation. But the basic thrust of Obamacare is, as I’ve just explained, coherent and even fairly simple. Moreover, all the early indications are that the law will, in fact, give millions of Americans who currently lack access to health insurance the coverage they need, while giving millions more a big break in their health care costs. And because so many people will see clear benefits, health reform will prove irreversible.