Washington: `Obamacare` escaped unharmed from the government shutdown Republicans hoped would stop it, but just as quickly they have opened a new line of attack on President Barack Obama`s signature legislative achievement, one handed to them by the administration itself.
While Congress was arguing, President Barack Obama`s plan to expand coverage for the uninsured suffered a self-inflicted wound. A computer system seemingly designed by gremlins gummed up the first open enrollment season. After nearly three weeks, it`s still not fixed.
Republicans hope to ride that and other defects they see in the law into the 2014 congressional elections. Four Democratic senators are facing re-election for the first time since they voted for the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as "Obamacare," and their defeat is critical to Republican aspirations for a Senate majority.
Democrats say that`s just more wishful thinking, if not an obsession.
Although Obama`s law remains divisive, only 29 per cent of the public favors its complete repeal, according to a recent Gallup poll. The business-oriented wing of the Republican party wants to move on to other issues. Americans may be growing weary of the health care fight.
"This is the law of the land at this point," said Michael Weaver, a self-employed photographer from rural southern Illinois who`s been uninsured for about a year. "We need to stop the arguing and move forward to make it work."
It took him about a week and half, but Weaver kept going back to the healthcare.Gov website until he was able to open an account and apply for a tax credit that will reduce his premiums. He`s not completely finished because he hasn`t selected an insurance plan, but he`s been able to browse options.
It beats providing page after page of personal health information to insurance companies, Weaver said.
Under the new law, insurers have to accept people with health problems. Weaver is in his mid-50s, with high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but otherwise in good health. He says those common conditions made it hard for him to get coverage before.
Although Weaver seems to have gotten past the major website obstacles, he`s still finding shortcomings. There`s no place to type in his medications and find out what plans cover them. "I wish there was more detail, so you could really figure it out," he said.