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It has been over 14 days since the beginning of the government shutdown. With two parties intensely debating what to do next, there seems to be no end in sight for the paralysis. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, a government shutdown went on for three weeks. The United States is now in its second shutdown, and compromises on the issue of Obamacare that could lead to agreement on a viable budget do not seem to be in the near future.

Because of the shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees are temporarily out of work without pay, and it is currently impossible to obtain an entrance visa to the United States. The most frequently cited issue for Republicans in this crisis is Obamacare. Some individuals are rallying in support of Obamacare, while others vehemently oppose it. But what is Obamacare, and what are its pros and cons?

Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, is a series of reforms to our nation’s healthcare market with the intent to provide all American citizens with health insurance and mitigate the negative effects of health-care as a commercial industry. Under Obamacare, all health plans would provide the same benefits, and individuals from the middle to lower class would be eligible for monetary assistance. On the other hand, the upper class would pay more. Insurance companies would not be allowed to deny any person access to health insurance based on gender or pre-existing conditions, nor would they be allowed to drop customers who become ill. Also under Obamacare, large businesses (with fifty or more full-time employees) are required to provide their full-time workers with insurance coverage or pay a penalty. There is some fear of businesses reducing workers’ hours to reduce the impact of these increased costs. There is also discussion of the effect on small businesses, though small businesses will receive tax breaks on health insurance costs.

While Obamacare has wonderful hypothetical benefits, so far the implementation has not gone smoothly and has been subject to multiple delays. Small businesses were supposed to have be able to “shop” for healthcare as of Oct. 1, but so far, the registration website is not functioning.

Obamacare is also not as accessible to the public as it should be. According to numbers taken from the United States Census, America has the fifth-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Another delay undermining the positive intention of Obamacare regards the Spanish-language version of Obamacare’s web portal, which is currently unable to process applications. The only way that non-English speakers can apply for health care is by obtaining phone assistance to navigate the English website.

Any given product may sound appealing, but without the components crucial to its operation, it is useless. Obamacare is a forward-thinking idea that would save many lives by providing greater access to critical preventive measures such as yearly check-ups. Unfortunately, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the other individuals responsible for the operation of Obamacare are not doing an acceptable job and continue to provide excuses for the “glitches.”

On the other hand, the government shutdown does not provide an appropriate solution to these problems. Because of the Republican Party’s choice to pursue an aggressive course of action, many individuals in economically crucial positions are out of work. While there are many issues with the proposal, instead of closing down the government and debating over whether or not to remove Obamacare, the two parties should spend their time working together in order to improve this new legislation.

Clare Holtzman

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