Rob Douglas: A Kinsley gaffe emerges from the fog

Posted: March 28, 2014 in Health, Politics, US President
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By Rob Douglas

As of Thursday, March 27, 2014


In 1988, famed political pundit Michael Kinsley wrote, “A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth — some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.” In recognition of that incisive observation, a “Kinsley gaffe” became political parlance for inadvertently honest statements by pols who intend to spin the truth.

In 2010, speaking before the Legislative Conference of the National Association of Counties, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated, “You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill (the Affordable Care Act), the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention — it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.”

With her next words, Pelosi assured herself an entry on the all-time list of Kinsley gaffes.

“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

Now that the fog of legislative controversy is giving way to the reality of regulatory implementation, stories of what is in the Affordable Care Act that’s not very exciting for Coloradans are beginning to emerge.

Last Friday, in “Hitting the marketplace,” the Steamboat Today reported:

“One of Steamboat Springs’ biggest employers is scaling back its health insurance offerings as a response to the Affordable Care Act.

“Intrawest, the parent company of Steamboat Ski Area, informed all of its seasonal employees earlier this month that it no longer would offer them health insurance after April 30.”

Addressing the upheaval in health insurance for hundreds of seasonal employees, Steamboat Ski Area spokesman Mike Lane said in a written statement, “The company, along with the rest of the country, is adapting to the new changes in health care resulting from the (Affordable Care Act) and will continue to work with staff to help them make the best decisions based on their individual situation.”

On Wednesday, in “Some CMC teachers cry foul over new Obamacare-related cap on hours,” the Aspen Daily News reported:

“Some part-time faculty at Colorado Mountain College (CMC) say their ability to earn a living as teachers has been harmed by a new cap on working hours recently instituted by school administrators in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). …

“Under the law, beginning in January 2015 any employer with more than 100 workers will have to provide health insurance to anyone who works more than 30 hours per week on average. In response, CMC has joined many community colleges across the country by capping part-time teaching loads to fall below that 30-hour threshold, averting an unbudgeted increase in faculty health care costs next year.

“Yet some adjunct teachers — there are more than 600 at CMC, compared to around 112 full-time faculty — say the school’s pre-emptive decision to skirt Obamacare requirements has harmed their earning potential, while also compromising their ability to respond to student needs and offer extra help outside of class.

“I used to teach three four-credit classes, and now I teach two,” said one science teacher, who didn’t want her name or home campus printed because she feared that it could harm her chance of landing a full-time job with benefits at CMC. “The only way that people really make it (as adjuncts) is by stacking courses, by having multiple courses.”

Responding to the concerns of part-time faculty, CMC President Dr. Carrie Hauser told the Aspen Daily News in a written statement, “I want to assure you that we have not made rigid, long-term decisions concerning total compensation for part-time instructors. Like most community colleges throughout the nation, we are taking a very close look at the implications of recent changes to employment and health care-related policies. We are trying to be responsive to the needs of our employees and students while balancing the fiscal limitations of our institution.”

So throughout the course of the last week, two major Colorado employers, Intrawest (which also owns Winter Park Resort) and Colorado Mountain College, have reacted rationally to an irrational law by reducing their financial exposure to the Affordable Care Act as they publicly acknowledge they are “adapting” to the law and “balancing the fiscal limitations” of their respective organizations.

Like many others in Colorado and across the country, these employers have found that the obvious truth wrapped within Pelosi’s Kinsley gaffe is that the Affordable Care Act is unaffordable when it comes to their bottom line.

#To reach Rob Douglas, email


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