What worries Obamacare opponents?

     Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner is one of many vocal critics of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner is one of many vocal critics of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

    Core provisions of the Affordable Care Act are just months away from implementation, but recent efforts to derail Obamacare are a reminder that many people still oppose the law. What worries Obamacare opponents?

    Got questions about the Affordable Care Act? The WHYY/NewsWorks Health and Science Desk provides “The Short Answer.” 

    Today’s question

    Core provisions of the Affordable Care Act are just months away from implementation, but recent efforts to derail Obamacare are a reminder that many people still oppose the law. What worries Obamacare opponents?

    The short answer

    Some of the lingering opposition is ideological. While the Supreme Court said the government can constitutionally require people to buy health insurance or else pay a fine, many people say that insurance mandate is wrong.

    Other opponents say it’s wrong the government has granted a series of “waivers” to some groups and not others.

    More details

    “It’s absolutely unfair and indefensible for the president to arbitrarily delay the Obamacare mandate on employers, while maintaining the law’s penalty on hardworking American families,” said U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in a news release.

    In another situation called “unfair,” lawmakers and their staffers will be able to keep a hefty employer contribution from the federal government to help pay coverage costs when they buy plans online through the Obamacare marketplaces.

    Long waits at the doctor’s office

    Some health-law critics worry the health system isn’t ready to absorb the “shock” of tens of millions of new people with insurance, and some health law experts share that concern.

    When Massachusetts first overhauled its health system, many residents experienced long waits to see a doctor or primary-care provider.

    Health-law supporters respond that “help on the way.” There are billions of dollars built into the Affordable Care Act to expand health centers across the country. There is also money earmarked to increase the health-care workforce through the National Health Service Corps, although it takes years to create a new doctor or nurse practitioner.

    ‘Glitches are inevitable’

    Critiques say recent administrative delays suggest that the entire health law should be put on “pause.”

    The state health insurance marketplaces, where individuals and small businesses will shop online for coverage, are set to launch Oct. 1. In late August, federal health officials pushed back their sign-off on the insurance plans that will be sold through the marketplaces.

    Drexel University policy expert Robert Field said, for any program “this big,” administrative glitches are inevitable.

    “The only way to get it to work smoothly is to actually implement it, see what works and what doesn’t and fix the problems,” Field said.

    Many opponents will never be convinced, no matter what, Field said. The health law has become a symbol, a touchstone, for deeper, general feelings of unease about the country, he said.

    “I don’t think the supporters of Obamacare fully get that,” Field said. “I think they are going after specific, rational pieces of the law, trying to explain why the mandate exists, why the exchanges exist, but not getting at the gut feelings that are motivating a lot of people.”

    Will ‘defund Obamacare’ efforts succeed?

    Probably not. But a contingent of the Republican Party is taking a stand. Some lawmakers want to derail the health law by cutting off funding.

    Leaders of the movement concede they do not have the votes to defund Obamacare, still, they says they are going to try.

    The 2010 health law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2014. How will it affect you, your wallet and your health? Email your questions to healthandscience@whyy.org or tweet us at @NewsWorksWHYY.

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