EDITORIAL: Dems see light on Obamacare

So now they tell us.

It may take some of us a while to get the word, but at least a couple of U.S. senators, including one from Arkansas, have finally seen the light where Obamacare is concerned. And all it took was a trainwreck-in-process, specifically the one called Obamacare.

Here is Jeanne Shaheen, the gentlewoman from New Hampshire, in a letter to the president Oct. 22: “Given the existing problems with the (Affordable Care Act’s) website, I urge you to consider extending open enrollment beyond the current end date of March 31, 2014. Allowing extra time for consumers is critically important so they have the opportunity to become familiar with the website, survey their options and enroll …

“Further, in light of the difficulties individuals may be having with enrolling through healthcare.gov, I ask that you clarify how the individual responsibility penalty will be administered and enforced. If an individual is unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems with enrollment, they should not be penalized because of lack of coverage.”

Our own Mark Pryor seconded the motion on the same day, saying he was all for a course correction, too. There’s something about a developing disaster that wonderfully concentrates the mind, however complacent it might have been before.

It may also help to be a U.S. senator up for re-election next year, a circumstance that lends the obvious a certain urgency. Mark Pryor may have an interest in saving more than Obamacare, like his senatorial campaign. To quote Arkansas’ drowsy senior senator, who may be coming awake at last:

“I read Senator Shaheen’s letter today and support the common sense idea to extend the date for open enrollment. I believe, given the technical issues, it makes sense to extend the time for people to sign up. In addition, the Administration should state clearly how the enforcement mechanism will work if people can’t sign up in time. We all want to see the law work, and I hope the Administration will take a hard look at this reasonable suggestion.”

Thank you, good morning, and welcome aboard, Senator. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, though perhaps we’ve already done so. Several times. Now if only this wake-up call could rouse the White House, too … and even get it to do something about this mounting crisis, not just dismiss it as a glitch.

This little glitch with the Obamacare Express is about as minor as the one an engineer on the Illinois Central named Casey Jones encountered one foggy night this side of Canton, Miss. He didn’t survive that trainwreck.

But something tells us this trainwreck isn’t as likely to live on in song and story as ol’ Casey’s did. It’s more likely to find a place in the fulsome annals of bureaucracy, incompetence and arrogance, always a sad combination.

10/31/2013 - 7:25am