Beating expectations, President Barack Obama's health care overhaul was on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance on deadline day Monday, government officials told The Associated Press.Sally Kohn at CNN:
The 7 million target, thought to be out of reach by most experts, was in sight on a day that saw surging consumer interest as well as vexing computer glitches that slowed sign-ups on the HealthCare.gov website.
Two government officials confirmed the milestone, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of an official announcement.
More than 6 million Americans signed up for Obamacare before the March 31 deadline to get private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. This is great news for the Obama administration. But there are millions more reasons to celebrate Obamacare. Actually, at the writing of this essay, there are more than 317 million reasons — because that's the population of the United States of America and every single one of us can benefit from health care reform. How? Here's a rundown by the numbers: [...]Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast:105 million
That's how many Americans no longer have lifetime expense caps, whether it's because they have chronic illnesses or because their insurance company set restrictive policies.
Brace yourself, friends, for the new hate-and-snicker-fest on the right about the Obamacare numbers. It started over the weekend—actually, it’s been more or less ongoing since last fall—but it’s going to crescendo now that the enrollment deadline has been reached. Six million, eh? Bah. A million below expectations, they’ll say, and in any case a fake number. That’s what Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said Sunday on Fox; the administration is “cooking the books.” He didn’t reveal how he knows this, but of course he wasn’t pressed on the point. [...]Much more on this and the day's other top stories below the fold.
Brace yourself, friends, for the new hate-and-snicker-fest on the right about the Obamacare numbers. It started over the weekend—actually, it’s been more or less ongoing since last fall—but it’s going to crescendo now that the enrollment deadline has been reached. Six million, eh? Bah. A million below expectations, they’ll say, and in any case a fake number. That’s what Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said Sunday on Fox; the administration is “cooking the books.” He didn’t reveal how he knows this, but of course he wasn’t pressed on the point. [...]
And the mainstream media continue to insist that because of one congressional race in Florida in a district Republicans have held since Nixon was president, that this law is going to be the Democrats’ downfall this November. And why is that? Well, because they’ve decided. Obama and the Democrats are forcing this whole thing down people’s throats, and the Republicans’ repeal position represents the will of the besieged people.
Robert Schlesinger at US News:
The more important number, however, is arguably 9.5 million, the low-end number of previously uninsured people who have gained coverage thanks to the law, according to the L.A. Times. The piece, by Noam N. Levey, is an absolute must-read and is full of interesting and enlightening data about the effects of the law, drawn both from public records and also through private surveys conducted by the likes of the RAND Corporation, including the fact that roughly 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurance companies (as opposed to through the exchanges), a largely ignored group of people, and the fact that the number of people who have lost coverage because of the law is less than a million (too many but still far, far fewer than the 5 million figure Republican pols reliably spout).This is a must-read from Michael Hiltzik:
Of course Obamacare’s poll numbers remain under water, but as I argued in my column on Friday, the opportunity – and necessity – here for Democrats isn’t to make the Affordable Care Act a suddenly winning issue but instead to neutralize it enough to provide oxygen for the rest of their agenda.
For Obamacare critics, consequently, the enrollment numbers demand debunking. Here's a bestiary of their arguments for why the figures shouldn't be believed, and explanations of why they're off-base.Switching topics to the other big story of the week, climate change, here's what the pundits and editorial boards are saying. First up, The New York Times:
"How many have paid?" (Also known as "The statistics are full of deadbeats"): We examined this argument a few days ago. We observed that the concern is probably exaggerated and certainly premature, since many people who enrolled late in the cycle, including those in the March surge, may not have payments due for as much as six weeks after enrollment. Many haven't even received their first monthly premium bill yet.
Perhaps now the deniers will cease their attacks on the science of climate change, and the American public will, at last, fully accept that global warming is a danger now and an even graver threat to future generations.The Los Angeles Times:
On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that since 1990 has been issuing increasingly grim warnings about the consequences of a warming planet, released its most powerful and sobering assessment so far. Even now, it said, ice caps are melting, droughts and floods are getting worse, coral reefs are dying. And without swift and decisive action to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources, the world will almost surely face centuries of climbing temperatures, rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields. The damage will be particularly acute in coastal communities and in low-lying poor countries — like Bangladesh — that are least able to protect themselves.
There's a new tone in the latest report on climate change from the United Nations' expert organization on the subject. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doesn't just forecast the usual sweeping changes that are likely to occur as the planet warms, the kinds of warnings the public has heard (and often ignored) for decades. The report released Sunday goes further by pointing out alarming signs of what is happening already. In a rational world, it would be more than enough to propel world leaders into action.And Peter Foster at The Telegraph:
So the International Panel on Climate Change is unequivocal: the science is clear. No one will be untouched by climate change, and it is no longer any good burying our heads in the sand about that fact.Elizabeth Kolpert at The New Yorker:
It will be interesting to see how the Republican Party and the grassroots America it represents reacts to what Dr Saleemul Huq, the convening lead author on one of the chapters in the report, called the "overwhelming evidence" that climate change is happening and it is real.
On past form, the chances are not good. Take a look back at the 2008 and 2012 Republican primary campaigns and it is astonishing the number of candidates that still both deny climate science and evolution, in keeping with the views of many of their core voters.
The two are linked because the same pseudoscientific argument is advanced in both cases to defend a completely non-scientific position. The false equivalence that the science of evolution and man-made climate change are merely theories, that have no more merit than any other theory.
Meanwhile, as bad as things look for humans, the prognosis for non-humans is, in many ways, worse. Under all the scenarios that the I.P.C.C. panel considered, including an implausible one in which the world imposes drastic limits on carbon emissions right now, a “large fraction” of terrestrial and freshwater species face elevated extinction risks. Under the most likely scenarios, many species “will not be able to move fast enough during the 21st century to track suitable climates”, and there is a chance that some ecosystems, including the Arctic tundra and the Amazon rainforest, will undergo “abrupt and irreversible change.” Forests are already dying back in some parts of the world because of warming-related stress, and more forests are likely to follow suit as temperatures continue to rise. As Grist put it in a summary of the findings, “Animal Planet will get really boring.”