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President Barack Obama Photo by: AP Photo

Obamacare – the buck stops with you Mr. President

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President Barack Obama Photo by: AP Photo

Much has been written of the Affordable Care Act, which passed into law in 2010, and President Barack Obama’s difficulties in defending his statements to the nation regarding its effects and benefits.

Over the past weeks, the President has made a number of statements that have been collectively construed and described by him as an apology.

Yet the President, the Administration, and other ACA supporters continued to tell the public, to the public’s current dismay, the big lie.

Whether these people knew, or just should have known, the real truth about ACA’s effects on the 70% or so of Americans who have health insurance through their employer, facts now disclose the big lie.

It is time for a full-throated apology, in which the speaker says, “I am sorry” and then explains what he or she did that was wrong.

In this case, ACA supporters would need to acknowledge that their previous statements were false.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of "apology" includes, “a frank acknowledgement of the offense with expression of regret for it, by way of reparation.”

President Obama consistently misled the American people over a period of years about what was in the ACA.

So what the President needs to say is “I said for several years that “If you like your current health care plan, you can keep it, period.”  

“I was wrong in saying that, and I apologize. What I should have said was,

“If you like your current program, you probably can’t keep it. Fact is the Affordable Care Act changes lots of health care features for everyone.“

We will never know whether telling the truth would have prevented the President’s reelection, but it is apology time.

A strong leader would make a genuine apology to the American people, not a weak one which shifts the blame. Then what?

First, the President and his Administration need to get their story straight. They need to tell Americans in summary form what the ACA does and how it works. We need Democratic and Republican politicians working with the Administration to solve this mess.

And we need to put aside the political fixes that don’t work; most politicians don’t understand how insurance companies operate.

In addition to working together with Democrats, Republicans need to drop – for the time being –‘repeal and replace’ and ‘defund Obamacare’ in favor of realistic approaches to the problem: I would suggest a brief ‘punchlist’ approach, which includes items all agree on, and then a smart wish list.

Democrats could advance the ball by speaking with Republicans (in that regard, I would put forward some Democrats with a track record of working with Republicans and vice versa), and turning down the rhetoric.

It is upsetting to listen to Democrats, from the President on down, repeatedly say that Republicans only want to keep health care away from 30 million Americans.

That is not true. Conservatives are generally more generous with their time, talent and treasure than are liberals; conservatives including Republicans want to make healthcare more widely available in a different way.

It would be a good time for the remaining grown-ups in the Congress and Administration to come together and work toward a fix for the common good.
And the President needs to come clean.      

*Kevin Conboy is a retired lawyer, who served most recently as a partner with the global firm of Paul Hastings LLP. He has taught on an adjunct basis at Emory University and the University of Georgia Schools of Law, and at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. He is also a member of the Global Irish Network and has served for eight years as the President of the Irish Chamber of Atlanta. The opinions expressed are of his own.The author may be reached at kevinpatrickconboy@gmail.com.

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