While on his way to barter for health insurance through the Athenian health care exchange in the Agora, the philosopher Socrates has a chance encounter with Hippocrates, the father of medicine.
Hippocrates: Socrates, my dear fellow! Good day to you. But to what business are you hastening at such an early hour? And, I might add, with such a limp?
Socrates: Good morning, Hippocrates. Were it not for your timely greeting, I might have passed you by. I make haste to join the line of my fellow citizens who stand outside the newly formed healthcare exchange in the Agora. Finally, after years of waiting, we can sign up for affordable health insurance! I can hardly wait to compare the options, for alas! — as of late I have been plagued by this painful hip and fear the need of an artificial replacement.
Hippo: Ah, good Socrates, how sorry I am to hear of your woes! And yet, I fear that your painful hip may be the least of your worries in this healthcare debacle.
Soc: Whatever do you mean, Hippocrates? Are there not enough willing surgeons to go around?
Hippo: Of surgeons there are plenty, Socrates.
Soc: What then? Do you refer to the lack of affordable plans in the healthcare exchange?
Hippo: No, Socrates. A review shows that there are plenty of plans from which to choose. Moreover, with the increased competition, the premiums have dropped appreciably.
Soc: This is good news indeed! But tell me, Hippocrates, what are these concerns which you harbor in your heart?
Hippo: Have you not heard the latest news from the Senate floor, Hippocrates? There are those in the Congress who have plotted to derail the Affordable Care Act. If they have their way, the entire enterprise could come undone.
Soc: But what is this? Tell me more, Hippocrates!
Hippo: A small select group of representatives from the more conservative quarters have vowed to postpone the implementation of the Affordable Care Act for at least another year.
Soc: How can they orchestrate such a thing? Is the ACA not now the law of the land?
Hippo: To be sure, good Socrates, it is. But this select group has tied the postponement of the ACA to the budget bill now before the Senate. Because of their ridiculous amendment the Senate has refused to pass the legislation required to fund the government, the result of which being that all non-essential governmental employees are to be furloughed without pay indefinitely.
Soc: What? To jettison the funding of the Athenian government merely to undercut the implementation of a law on the books! But that is an outrage!
Hippo: (sadly nodding his head) To be sure, to be sure, good Socrates. But I am told that there is little which can be done to remedy the situation. The conservative party has closed ranks, despite the fact that there are many among its members who lament this action.
Soc: Such behavior is outrageous and unbecoming of statesmen!
Hippo: Alas, Socrates, there are few statesmen left in our time. Plato has informed me that this plot has been years in the making, for no other reason than to discredit the president and his program.
Soc: It would appear that politics is alive and well in our Athenian economy.
Hippo: Indeed, the Athenian Times reports that the current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law. It gives one pause to wonder at the extent to which our politicians will go to rescind it, even if that means not funding the government and refusing to raise the debt ceiling, which would all but ensure a global Athenian default.
Soc: How small the problem of pain in my hip appears in comparison! Perhaps the mad hatters in the party of tea should consider hemlock.