Obamacare isn't just on track, it had an amazingly successful first enrollment period against all odds.I have seen rhetoric like this in a few recent stories about the Affordable Care Act. Granted, not every recent Obamacare/Affordable Care Act story has such comments, and ostensibly, these are all positive stories about the undeniable success of Obamacare. However, this implicit assumption that belies all the positive messaging -- that the success of Obamacare is somehow enhanced or more significant because of how likely it was to fail and how many people bet against it -- is deeply, divisively, and emphatically misguided.
While I understand and commiserate with this line of reasoning, let's be unequivocal about one thing:
The success of Obamacare is no accident.
It is the result of years of hard work, done by a lot of good people, selfless even. Not all are Democrats, not all are civil servants, not all are financially obligated to the healthcare economy. But they all have one thing in common: they contributed meaningful, valuable action to make Obamacare work.
It took an army of designers, programmers, and engineers, to take the not insignificant amount of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, and translate them into substantial, and likely novel, computer algorithms and programs.
It took another army of designers, programmers, engineers, and officials to fix the dysfunctional Healthcare.gov website amidst blistering criticisms and denunciations for their failures.
It took legislators willing to buck immense pressure and glacial political intransigence and pass a comprehensive bill that had more than just some frivolous provisions, but seriously ambitious plans and controversial ideas. The pressure came from the Right for proposing a more Socialized health system that invested in helping the less affluent, and even from the Left for not pushing harder for more Progressive provisions.
It took bloggers willing to dive deep into the muddy waters and provide an outside confirmation of the enrollment numbers to provide hard evidence to refute the GOP's typical unfounded attacks of conspiracy and skewed numbers.
And through it all, it took boots on the ground to get people signed up however they could, or simply informing people and refuting all the misinformation and re-educating them on what Obamacare actually does and how it could help them.
And while I am glad to point out that not all of this work was being done by Democrats alone, it is clear that by any measure, Democrats have led on this issue, Democrats have put in the majority of the work to make this a success, and Democrats deserve much of the praise. On the other hand, Republicans have done nothing but obstruct, obfuscate, and inhibit any meaningful action on this issue that affects so many Americans. The last Republican who can honestly say that they have led on affordable healthcare is Mitt Romney, and look how the GOP has rewarded him.
Let's make sure the record reflects this.
I understand where the motive in the undercutting in articles such as the one above lies. In reality, there were reasonable possibilities that Obamacare would not be as successful as it is, or that the American public would not perceive it as a success either way.
But this undermines and diminishes all the work that all the people who contributed, contribute, and are still contributing to make Obamacare a success put into it.
If Obamacare had not enrolled 7 or 8 million QHPs, or if the American public does not perceive it as a success, does that suddenly negate all the hard work of all these great individuals and organizations? Would it have been OK for Democratic politicians to distance themselves from Obamacare because of the political damage it was doing to their images, at the cost of informing more people and making them more aware of the law and making sure they have access to affordable health care? I don't think so.
And now that open enrollment is mostly over, let's not act all surprised and relieved that Obamacare has been as successful as it was, like "Oops, guess it was Beginner's Luck." No. Let's not shortchange all the work these dedicated people have done by acting like luck or odds had anything to do with Obamacare's success. They deserve all the credit, more than they likely will ever receive.
And although the success of Obamacare was far from predestined, let's not act like any of its difficulty or success came out of the blue. Many of us had plenty of information well before open enrollment to predict a lot of what happened, and will likely happen from here on out.
And while it is true that Obamacare had a lot of detractors, a lot of groups invested in seeing it fail, that goes for almost every issue on which Progressives hope to make any meaningful progress at any point in our lifetimes. Does that excuse a botched rollout, or an inability to sign up anywhere near the goals of the original plan? The only difference is that, on paper, the ACA should have garnered bipartisan support. After all, it is a policy based on Conservative ideology, proposed by the Conservative Heritage Foundation. But let's not act like partisanship and propaganda and wealthy adversaries is any excuse for failure, any more than it is on failing to make any progress on equal rights for women and LGBT and minorities, on decreasing gun violence, on combating poverty and income inequality, or on combating climate change.
But let's also not ignore the other side of the equation that can be just as compelling to winning people over to seeing Obamacare as a success: the people who made it that way. Let the American public see that the success of Obamacare is the result of people doing amazing work, executing methodical plans and strategies, and responding to unforeseen problems with relative competency. Who are these people? The politicians they voted to lead, the computer engineers whose educations they invested in, and their local volunteers who are willing to bend over backwards to help people get covered.
I will never know most of your names, but whoever you are, I thank you for all the work you have done. For your communities, for people all over the country, and for the Democratic Party.
Because if any voter needs a reason why they should vote for Democrats, especially over Republicans, come November,
they have it in the people who made Obamacare a success.
Let's remind the voters that Obamacare is an example of what happens when the leaders they elect are actually doing what they're supposed to: committing themselves to helping the voters. Not to political convenience, not to wealthy donors, and not to the interests of corporations and think tanks.
And if you don't want leaders like this in charge of the country, what exactly is the alternative you prefer?