In the waning days of the Confederacy, when defeat was inevitable, the only remaining question for the CSA commanders and administration was whether to surrender or disperse its crippled army into hundreds of guerrilla units and fight on in a effort to wear down the U.S. Army’s resolve. To their credit, they chose the former course of action. To have waged a guerrilla war, Confederate leaders realized, would have been a bloody exercise in futility, although there were a few groups of Confederate die-hards who waged war independently for months after the official surrender in April 1865.
In certain respects, we have seen something similar with the dispute in Congress over the Affordable Care Act. For close to three years, conservatives have fought implementation of the national health insurance program with every available weapon. Ultimately, when House Republicans’ efforts to fight “Obamacare” by shutting down the government and defaulting on the national debt were defeated, for all intents and purposes, the war was over.
Like it or not, the Affordable Care Act will be implemented. The only question that remains is whether Mississippi’s leaders will exercise the grace displayed by those Southern leaders of an earlier era and accept that reality or continue to wage a pointless guerrilla war that can achieve nothing and will only serve to hurt Mississippians.
A few days before the Oct. 1 ACA enrollment period began, we called the office of state insurance commissioner Mike Chaney in an effort to inform our readers about where they could go for information on the program. We were told, in an icy tone, that the ACA was a federal program and the state would offer no information or assistance in helping Mississippians understand what is required of them.
Mississippians are on their own as far as the state insurance commission, the one entity in Mississippi that could be expected to be most knowledgeable on the subject, is concerned.
But what purpose does that serve? It is a spiteful, childish attitude. And it is harmful to those residents who are required, by law, to apply.
For three years, the ACA has existed in the political realm, where mischaracterizations, misrepresentations and exaggerations are to be expected from both sides.
But the time for those tactics has ended.
Given the prolonged political war over the ACA, it is understandable that the program is shrouded in confusion. The federal government has done a poor job in informing people about the particulars of the program and the failure of its online registry has only served to add an element of frustration to the process.
But continued attacks on the program and the indifference of our state insurance experts to help separate fact from fiction serve no useful purpose. To continue in these tactics is tantamount to guerrilla warfare.
The Affordable Care Act will succeed or fail not because of anyone’s opinion of it. It will succeed or fail on its on merits after it is implemented. The people will decide. That is the way it should be.
The practical reality is that roughly 275,000 Mississippians who do not have health insurance or are not already covered by Medicare are required to enroll in the ACA or pay a fine.
It is in the best interest of everyone that enrollment is achieved with as little confusion as possible.
If our elected leaders obstinately choose to impede that effort, they will have not struck a blow against a law they don’t like. They will have done an injustice to the people they are sworn to serve.
The war is over.
Let the guerrilla war be over, too.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.