The hangover

By Denis Storey


Well, it happened.

Despite an economy we're all still waiting to bounce back, Barack Obama snagged a second term.

But to all those talking heads last night, I still don't see a mandate—aside from the one in the reform law. The Dems held onto the Senate. The GOP kept the House. And Obama's margin of victory actually shrank in the face of withering jobs numbers.

(To hear the pundits tell it, you'd think the president won this resounding landslide and the Republican Party is doomed. Well, the country looks as divided as ever, Obama's base is smaller despite the changing demographics everyone kept pointing to and the GOP appears to have a much better bullpen of younger players who'll be ready to step up by 2016. The Dems have aging pols Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. This morning might be tough, but the future looks bright.)

In the meantime, what do the next four years hold? I think only three things are certain: One, a debt deal will get done (no promised on how good or bad it might be). Two, deadlock will continue to be the order of the day (midterms should be interesting). And, three, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will creep closer to full implementation. But don't take my word for it.

“President Obama’s re-election provides American employers with the referendum to fully begin implementing the Affordable Care Act. Even after this summer’s Supreme Court ruling, many of our members were still awaiting the outcome of this general election before they addressed health care reform," International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans CEO Michael Wilson said in a statement released just this morning.

“We are still at the beginning of the process, much like when [Employee Retirement Income Security Act] was enacted in 1974. I would expect the health care law to undergo the same process of review and implementation and we will probably still be working to adjust the ACA in 30 years," he added.

The upshot, I suppose, is that they can't possibly hit us with Obamacare again. (They can only kill you once, right?)

Gallows humor aside, at least the uncertainty is gone. The way forward might be tough, but at least we know what the landscape looks like. Our colleagues laboring under the shadow of Dodd-Frank aren't so fortunate, so to speak.

But as Wilson points out, PPACA still only addresses the access issue. Cost and quality of care remain the elusive other two legs of the stool we're all perched on so precariously.

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