A trio of news items this last week is pointing towards ObamaCare being a permanent fixture and that the Republican efforts to minimize its successes and exaggerate its flaws are coming to naught.
Rand's report on the effects of ObamaCare is showing that that:
- At least 9.3 million more Americans have health insurance now than in September 2013, virtually all of them as a result of the law.
- How The White House Just Undercut One Of The GOP's Top 2014 Attacks The Rand study confirms other surveys that placed the number of people who lost their old insurance and did not or could not replace it -- the focus of an enormous volume of anti-Obamacare rhetoric -- at less than 1 million. The Rand experts call this a "very small" number, less than 1% of the U.S. population age 18 to 64.
- The number of people getting insurance through their employers increased by 8.2 million. Rand said the increase is likely to have been driven by a decline in unemployment, which made more people eligible for employer plans, and by the incentives in the Affordable Care Act encouraging more employer coverage. The figure certainly undermines the contention by the healthcare law's critics that the legislation gave employers an incentive to drop coverage.
- Of the 3.9 million people counted by Rand as obtaining insurance on the individual exchange market, 36% were previously uninsured. That ratio is expected to rise when the late signups are factored in. Medicaid enrollment increased by 5.9 million, the majority of whom did not have insurance before signing up.
Warts and all, it is clearly achieving its primary goal to get insurance into the hands of people that need it most. This is on top of the other goals already achieved in insurance reform ($2B of premiums returned back to the consumer, no more life-time limits or cancelations, etc.)
GOP is beginning help make ObamaCare better
An important event last week had the GOP vote in a measure that improved ObamaCare for businesses ("The tweak itself is relatively minor. It eliminates a provision of the Affordable Care Act that capped deductibles for small-group health plans at $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families" - source).
This represents the first time that the Republicans have done anything that hasn't been blatantly hindering or derailing ObamaCare in some way. Of course, it was done surreptitiously and the public rhetoric hasn't changed, but the new reality that ObamaCare isn't collapsing under its own weight (with or without a nudge here and there) and that the best way forward is to perhaps hammer it into into place.
Drudge's scaremongering on this may scupper any future efforts, as is all the publicity around this event, but if the GOP are going to have to be pressured by the various interest groups (and some pundits) to stop the current path and move on, then they may not have a choice. It certainly makes for interesting optics.
TPM: How The White House Just Undercut One Of The GOP's Top 2014 Attacks
TPM reported this week that:
Of course, the Republicans can still play the 'Obama is repealing ObamaCare himself' card, but that can only be done whilst simultaneously pretending that this is a bad thing, even though they've been campaigning for the very same (in which case, how is this a criticism again?)In a move with big election-year implications, the Obama administration announced Monday that it would reverse a proposed cut to private Medicare Advantage plans. The decision undercuts one of the GOP's favorite lines of attack on Obamacare and on Democrats in general.
For Republicans, though, it might be unwelcome news. Attacking the cuts, authorized under Obamacare, had become a favorite criticism of the health care reform law -- especially as other critiques dwindled. And they quickly sought to portray Monday's change as political opportunism by the Democrats.
So we have the facts coming in now that removing insurance from 9 million+ people is going to be very unpopular and unlikely. And that's today's figure, in 2016 the next real chance of reform if Republicans win the White House, it will be 10's of millions more as it becomes the new reality. Of course, there's the repeal/replace strategy but that would likely keep same components of ACA. More importantly though, the GOP is beginning to be forced to join in with the Administration's efforts to shore up the law and try and make it work despite some of the early flaws.
It will be interesting to look back on the rhetoric and tally up the scores, the death panels, the death spiral, young people not signing up, the terrible website, getting to keep your crappy insurance (wait till those birds come home to roost for those people that actually want to do so), all the fake horror stories, and maybe some of the real horror stories. So I don't think it's a victory for ObamaCare yet, but I thought this week represents a good solid checkpoint to note in the ongoing dialogue on the health care system.
Vermont's single-payer experiment (more detail that you'd care here) will be closely watched as this will be next logical step. Maybe a Clinton 2020 initiative?