It’s all about leadership. Would you agree?
Arena Asks: The Obama administration is scrapping a long-term care insurance program created by the new health care law, reports the New York Times. The administration’s decision was another setback for the new law, which is under attack in court, in Congress and in many state legislatures. How much does this erode support for the health law? Will this be an issue in the 2012 campaign?
My Answer: The decision to scuttle the Class program reinforces the perception of the Obama administration as naive but does not signal the crumbling of Obamacare. Smart managers like Secretary Sebelius always reevaluate and revise on the way from plan to practice. Especially with a complex new program like health reform, there will be a constant need to test assumptions and adapt the program to make it better or to address new circumstances.
The much thornier problem for the President in 2012 stems from his unwillingness to lead people to a higher vision of how truly universal health care could boost the economy while dramatically improving healthcare for all. If he had done that, “Obamacare” would be a badge of honor rather than a pejorative. But by starting the game with a series of compromises and no clear policy statement, he ensured that any health reform legislation that did pass would be the subject not of the applause it deserves but of unrelenting attacks from partisan opponents.