How I helped delay Obamacare

There’s a theory ag journalists have: If you want to end a drought, write about it. In other words, if drought has plagued the area and you write a story or two on it, it is sure to start raining the day before the stories hit homes and make the stories look like old news before they’ve even been read.

With that in mind, I wasn’t at all surprised when the Obama administration, through the Treasury Department, announced right before the July 4 holiday that it was delaying until 2015 the healthcare overhaul lovingly called Obamacare, particularly the provision in it that mandated employers over a certain size offer healthcare to employees.

It was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014. Six months from now. Who the heck knows if the thing will even take root now.

Why was I not surprised the administration had a mind change on this? Because I had just written a story for Southeast Farm Press on what farmers, particularly fruit and vegetable farmers who have large employee basis, either fulltime or seasonal, need to be doing now to get ready for the Jan. 1, 2014 launch (or crash) of Obamacare.

The story’s OK. The best I could do on what is a very hard thing to get your mind around. Even smart folks like Charles Cook were having trouble explaining it and all the what-ifs and what-nots. He’s vice-president with BB&T – J. Rolfe Davis Insurance, based in Maitland, Fla. He was the head speaker at the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association meeting I went to back in June called “Health Care Reform: Next Steps for Employers.”

The association partnered up with BB&T to help its members get a grasp on what the looming Obamacare mandates meant to them and what they could do to either avoid them or best handle them. The meeting was informative. FFVA had more meeting lined up through the rest of the summer to cover all of Florida. Those FFVA meetings on healthcare reform have since been postponed, too.

Moot thing?

My story on healthcare reform now is for the most part a moot thing. Kind of like an extra pinky toe. Cute to some. Grotesque to others.  For the most part, useless or just plain confusing. A target to get stumped in the hallway on the way to the bathroom at night.

I should have known better. Took a gamble that Washington was actually going to go through with something, whether I liked it or not. If you’re going to attempt to write about Washington these days, particularly the policies that have ag anywhere near them, well, confusion and disappointment might be the real truth to the story.

Here’s a little truth, or some consistency which is truth’s first cousin: Washington is finally getting some balance if you will, a ying-yang kind of thing. The farm bill died in the House and is on the verge of being extended once again for another year. Extended. Obamacare’s being postponed, or halted, so to speak. Washington has reached a very Zen-like stance at this time: Sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed and chanting the same thing over and over and caught between two opposing forces. Or in other words, not doing a thing.

So, if you worried about what Obamacare was going to do to you or the country, you’re welcome. I got it delayed at least for another year. If you were looking forward to its Jan. 1, 2014 launch, well, sorry.

Do I really think I magically postponed Obamacare? Of course I don’t believe that. No more than I believe I can help the Atlanta Braves pull out a win by not breathing between pitches in the ninth inning. I’m a fisherman and a sports fan. I’m superstitious, but not that much.

Do I really think an ag journalist can stop a drought by writing about? You bet. Seen it happen too many times.


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