If you asked a random sample of 1000 Americans about their experience with Obamacare (the ACA): 800 would say it had no impact (their insurance comes from their employer or the government), 150 would say they had no insurance now or before the ACA, 25 would say they could buy an individual policy and pay the same price they paid before; 15 would say they could buy a subsidized individual policy and pay less than they paid before the ACA, and 13 - yes, 13 out of a thousand - would say they could buy an individual policy but they would have to pay more.
If you asked the Council of Economic Advisors, they would say that the annual increase in health care prices is now about 1%, the lowest in 50 years, and the amount of the annual increase in overall health care spending is now 1.3%, the lowest ever recorded. The Congressional Budget Office would tell you that they had to lower their projection of the cost of overall health care spending to 10% below what they had projected when Obammacare was enacted.
If you listen to the right wing –and even the mainstream- media, you would be certain that the reverse of those numbers is true.
But the hysteria from the right is good for the left, and the reasons why are below the knocked-over fleur de lis.
If you are told one thing, emphatically and with certainty, and that thing turns out to be not true, the original teller is not merely discredited, but hated. That will be the fate of the GOP on Obamacare.
Consider the scorched earth resistance against the ACA:
Not a single republican in congress voted in favor. It took a filibuster-avoiding move in the senate to obtain final passage.
28 states launched lawsuits immediately after passage attacking the constitutionality of the ACA.
After the ACA survived in the Supreme Court by a single vote -
• 36 states refused to establish a state-run exchange to assist citizens to sign up for private insurance
• 36 states refused to accept Medicaid to help subsidize health insurance costs
• Lawsuits by right wing groups then used the states’ refusal to establish exchanges as a basis for nullifying the law in these 36 states by claiming that the tax credit could not be used in those states and the laws could not therefore be applied to them
• 21 states introduced bills in their legislatures to nullify the ACA
• Right wing groups are sponsoring television commercials urging young people to violate the law and refuse to buy health care insurance
• Right wing media- Fox news, talk radio, etc- run 24/7 with stories on how awful the healthcare.gov website is and how the rollout in general is a disaster. There is a diary today on the New York Times description of these efforts.
Obama’s apology did not help. What he should have said was “I made a promise to the American people that the ACA would allow them to keep the health insurance they had if they liked it. I kept that promise for 98% of the American people. But I am president of 100% of America, not 98 %, and for 1.5 % of Americans my promise was broken. I did not intend for that to happen but it did and I will do my best to fix it.”
And, yet. The right wing outrage and gnashing of teeth ultimately will come to naught, because the simple dignity and security conferred upon any Americans who could not afford health insurance before but can now will trump whatever vitriol the right can spill.
PBS did a piece a couple of nights ago on a family in Colorado who will be reprsentative of the reasons the ACA will not only endure, but thrive. A married couple with 3 children was profiled. The parents were warehouse workers with the plain-speaking, salt-of-the-earth, modern-day American-gothic look. They had tried for years to buy heath insurance but could not afford the $600 or $700 monthly premium.
They lived in daily fear that a child would get sick or hurt and they would be helpless to protect them. After the father, speaking without emotion, said they bought Obamacare insurance for $150 a month, the mother, looking tired, said “We can breathe again”.
Please send an email to every republican office holder everywhere demanding an apology for trying to destroy this family’s daily life, and the lives of millions of others just like them.
Note: I use the term Obamacare advisedly. Obamacare is not government health care and it is not even government health insurance, it is (in some cases) government subsidized private health insurance. It is not the kind of health care Obama wanted to provide the American people, but the art of politics is, after all, the art of the possible, not the art of the perfect.
Also: Hat tip to Laurence O’Donnell for summarizing these issues so nicely on his show last night.
Fri Nov 22, 2013 at 9:19 AM PT: UPDATE: A couple of commentors have corrected me on the number of states refusing Medicaid for their citizens under the ACA. The actual number is 25, not 36. I regret the error.