Apologizing for the government shutdown

On October 29, Marilyn Travenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, began her testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee with an apology: “I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should.” Like everyone else, she had previously assured Congress and the nation that Healthcare.gov was ready to launch on October 1.

On October 30, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius stated in her testimony, “Let me say directly to these Americans: you deserve better. I apologize.” She went even further, saying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “Hold me accountable for the debacle. I’m responsible.”

I admire Travenner and Sebelius for their apologies, but I would like to call on more lawmakers and government leaders to take responsibility for both the government shutdown as well – and the promises that were made about the Healthcare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590). Admitting your mistakes is part of the healing process for our country. It’s one way to regain some of the public’s respect.

Here are just a few things I’d like to hear from our government leaders, with sincerity and humility.

What President Obama should say: “I was naïve and wrong when I promised in 2009, ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period.’ In fact, I can’t control the plans that health insurance companies choose to offer; and the Affordable Care Act actually requires health insurance companies to eliminate some of your existing plans to comply with the law.”

What House Speaker John Boehner should say: “We were wrong to allow a government shutdown. I sincerely apologize to all of the government employees, taxpayers, and businesses who were adversely affected or inconvenienced by the shutdown. We were wrong to try to defund the Affordable Care Act; we should have focused on repealing the law instead.”

What Senate Leader Harry Reid should say: “We were wrong to reject the House bills that delayed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year. If we had compromised on the healthcare act delay, we could have avoided the government shutdown and ensured a smooth, stress-free roll-out of Healthcare.gov. We were wrong to insist that Congress be exempt from the Affordable Care Act.”

What House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should say: “I was arrogant and factitious when I said in 2010, ‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy.’ There’s no excuse for making this statement. Our job is to read and understand every issue and bill we vote on. ”

What could our government leaders say that would start to regain your trust? What would you like to hear from our president and elected representatives?

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One Comment on “Apologizing for the government shutdown”

  1. On November 7, 2013 President Obama was interviewed by NBC’s Chuck Todd. Obama offered an apology of sorts – not for anything that he has done, but because some people are unhappy: “And I am sorry that they – you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me. We’ve got to work hard to make sure that – they know – we hear ’em and that we’re gonna do everything we can – to deal with folks who find themselves – in a tough position as a consequence of this.”

    About the healthcare bill, Obama admitted: “But obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law. And, you know, that’s somethin’ that I regret.” His justification for the reason why some healthcare plans have been or will be cancelled: “A lot of these plans are subpar plans.” Who decides what is subpar? Who decides which healthcare plan meets our needs?

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