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Is Affordable Care Act the next Medicare Part D?

When Bush's prescription drug plan was rolled out eight years ago, it also faced stumbles & criticism but is now a success. Could the same be true for the ACA?
Navigators Help Floridians Sign Up For New Health Care Marketplace
Affordable Care Act navigator Adrian Madriz (R) speaks with Lourdes Duenas, who is looking for health insurance, during a navigation session put on by the Epilepsy Foundation Florida to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act on October 8, 2013 in Miami, Florida.

When Medicare Part D was first rolled out eight years ago, many doubted its effectiveness at providing prescription drug coverage, especially after its implementation also faced technical glitches.

Now, as the Affordable Care Act faces the same low approval ratings and slow start, that same question is popping up. But with the George W. Bush law ultimately heralded as a success, is the early furor over the Affordable Care Act coming too soon?

In a conversation with Chuck Todd on Tuesday’s The Daily Rundown, former Democratic Sen. John Breaux from Louisiana, said that the program’s success doesn’t depend on its early failures, but rather on how well it’s implemented after the early problems are resolved.

Breaux, who helped the Medicare program through its rocky start to its success today, said, “These startup problems are problems, yes, and you have to admit that they are, but they’re not going to affect the ultimate view of the program after it gets fully implemented.”

What’s preventing the Affordable Care Act form getting off the ground like Medicare Part D, however, is the Republican Party’s refusal to stand-by the program, said the Democratic senator.

“Democrats who by and large did not vote for [Part D], after it was passed said, ‘Look we got to make it work,’” said Breaux. “Now you see Republicans fighting it tooth and nail even though it’s now the law of the land.”

Republicans, though, still say there’s a big difference between the privately controlled Medicare Part D and the government’s Affordable Care Act.

“You allocate a scarce resource through real competitive markets, not through government and mandated programs,” Republican Sen. Tom Coburn said referring to healthcare as a scarce resource on Morning Joe. “[Their programs] cost twice as much, they’re inefficient and most often ineffective.”

But Breaux disagreed, urging that the government is trying to involve the private sector in order to bring down healthcare prices through legitimate market competition.

“They’re going to fight to be able to sell the product of health insurance just like they are now with prescription drugs,” Breaux argued. “There’s a lot of competition, we get a better product at a better price is the result.”