The current plan isn’t perfect, but it is a step toward social justice

Sixteen million Americans who haven’t access to medical care are eagerly awaiting the Oct. 1 start of the Affordable Care Act, and now congressional Republicans and a few willy-nilly Democrats are saying, “No, it’s not perfect, let’s defund it and start over.”

What unprincipled malarkey. Of course, it’s not perfect!

No piece of legislation that wends its way through the sausage factory on Capitol Hill ever deserves a Grade A stamp, but implementing the legislation as it stands and making needed fixes later is a far better choice than dumping it into the waste stream whole hog.

Barring the unlikely event that Congress should suddenly follow the world’s other progressive industrialized nations and enact single-payer health care, the ACA is as good as it gets as a starter bill.

Indeed, the administration’s implementation team under the wise leadership of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sibelius is in the process of hiring several thousand “navigators” to fan out across America and guide people through the bill’s most confusing labyrinths.

And the Internal Revenue Service is set to hire more than 10,000 agents who will be specially trained to collect reasonable tax penalties from those who choose to opt out of the federal program. It is hoped the numbers of young people and small businesses who decide to unwind themselves from the nation’s social fabric will be much, much smaller than many right-wing critics are projecting.

This is the one thing that the president and Sibelius are confident of — that Americans who actually try the health care law will like it and find it the answer to their long-term medical needs.

After all, what’s not to like when you consider its outstanding features, including:

There have been some glitches and delays along the way, but Sibelius and other administration officials are confident that things will go smoothly when consumers and businesses begin to sign up for benefits.

“We know we have a lot of work to do,” she told reporters recently, “but we’ll be ready for whatever comes up.”

That’s good news not just for millions of uninsured citizens, but more for America’s reputation as beacon for the rest of the world. At long last it puts our country on the path of social justice already taken by so many other nations.

The trip along that path may be bumpy at times, but the result will be a healthier United States — one that is able to meet all the economic challenges of what looks to be an increasingly turbulent and eventful 21st century.