Peter Callaghan: Cynical Girl and Earnest Guy bat around health act problems

Staff writerNovember 19, 2013 

There they are again, back at their corner table, fueled by caffeine and youthful self-confidence. As such, it is never difficult to eavesdrop on Earnest Guy and Cynical Girl.

Earnest Guy: “Hey, take a look at this. It’s the confirmation email saying I have my own health insurance for the first time. My long days in the waiting room of the free clinic are over.”

Cynical Girl: “Congratulations. And your long days waiting for a response from the HealthCare.gov webpage are over. How did you get through?”

EG: “I used the Washington state site, which isn’t having the same problems as the federal site.”

CG: “Lucky you. But many Americans don’t have that option. And the failures of the website have threatened the entire health care reform. I can’t believe how Obama screwed this up.”

EG: “You sound like the Republicans who have been trying to scuttle Obamacare since it passed.”

CG: “Actually, I was quoting Democrats.”

EG: “… who can’t think past the next election. No one said we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. It’s asking a lot to think that rolling out something this complex and sweeping would not produce some hiccups.”

CG: “Those aren’t hiccups you hear. It’s gagging.”

EG: “If the Republicans weren’t so intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, they could have helped fix inevitable problems. It isn’t a coincidence that in Washington state, where Republicans in the Legislature are helping implement it, things are going more smoothly.”

CG: “What did you expect congressional Republicans to do for a law they opposed, commission an opera? Obama was winning. All he had to do was roll it out without making a meal of it, and he failed.”

EG: “You sound happy.”

CG: “Actually, I’m very unhappy. I’m so sick of politicians debating health care reform while millions go without care or go into debt paying for it. It’s just another political wedge issue for campaign consultants. Which is why I’m also angry.”

EG: “No one is talking about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act because it is more fun making fun of the website problems. Remember how young people can stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26? Preventative care is covered. Pre-existing conditions can’t be used to deny coverage. The states that expanded Medicaid will help millions get regular care for the first time. Millions more qualify for tax breaks.”

CG: “If it gets implemented, of course.”

EG: “And many more people would have been helped except that too many governors refused to accept federal dollars to pay for it.”

CG: “You mean they don’t trust the federal government? Remember the third biggest lie is: ‘I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help?’ And now we can add: ‘If you like your plan, you can keep it.’ ”

EG: “Your cynicism has begun to eat away at your brain.”

CG: “Is Mad Cow Disease covered by Obamacare?”

EG: “As if people didn’t have their individual plans canceled before the act, or didn’t face big premium increases. Now the insurers can blame it on Obamacare.”

CG: “Yes, Obama has made insurance companies sympathetic figures. Another great accomplishment.”

EG: “Much of the act is based on Republican ideas. The individual mandate was pioneered by Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. People are buying plans from insurance companies, not the government, and will get care from private or nonprofit health providers.”

CG: “Yeah, I know. Democrats are now defending Republican ideas from Republican attacks. No wonder Americans hate politics. Listen, maybe it will work out. Maybe the website will get fixed. Maybe people will get the care they need. Maybe it won’t be a major issue come election time. But if that doesn’t happen, this debacle could set back health care reform for a generation.”

EG: “Well, you have succeeded in depressing me before I even finished my cappuccino. And if you ask whether depression is covered by Obamacare I may reconsider my commitment to nonviolence.”

CG: “Don’t hurt me. I’m not insured.”

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657 peter.callaghan @thenewstribune.com @CallaghanPeter

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