I have a prediction. I predict that people will stop voting against their own best interests.
We know that the Affordable Care Act is working. There are those 7 million signups (nearly 8 million now), plus the under-26’ers, plus the Medicaid expansion, plus the off-exchange signups, bringing the total closer to 15 million, maybe higher. (OK, a lot of those are people who lost their original policies, so subtract a few) But the point is that there are many millions of Americans who have health insurance for the first time in years, maybe ever. There are poor people on Medicaid who have never had insurance or decent medical care before. There are chronically ill or high risk (or female) people who cannot be cancelled or charged exorbitant rates ever again. There are all the heart-warming stories about folks with insurance who are now fighting and winning, whose lives have been saved by ACA. And despite Republican efforts, the word is spreading. People who used to hate Obamacare now love the ACA.
We can, we have to, make this work for Dems in the next election.
Polling across America shows increasing support for the ACA. Polling is moving from disastrously unfavorable a few months ago to pretty much neutral now, and will very soon be polling favorably, almost certainly with no turning back. And many of the anti-ACA respondents want something more effective (like single payer or a public option), but certainly don’t oppose universal health care. The people get it, even if the politicians don’t.
Millions of American women now have free contraceptive coverage. If Hobby Lobby loses their suit, many more women will be empowered. If Hobby Lobby wins - and stories about women denied contraception start to circulate - the outrage will be palpable. The Hobby Lobby position is unsupportable, and we need to spread the word. The ACA – universal health care – is a good thing. We will never go back.
Now consider those red states where Medicaid expansion was not picked up. That was so inexplicable, such a brainless maneuver, that the original framers didn’t even consider it. The SCOTUS decision permitting states to decline the expansion left people in many red states at an extreme disadvantage when a simple yes from their governor or legislature would have added millions more people to the covered group and millions more dollars to the states' economies. The petty hubris of Republican politicians has left millions of people at risk. Thousands will die without adequate medical care.
To compound the problem, hospitals in those red states, especially in the poorest districts, will be cutting services or closing because the ACA-mandated elimination of subsidies will not be replaced by the anticipated Medicaid payments. Mortality rates will surely rise, or at least remain documentably higher than in those states that implement the Medicaid expansion, and those statistics will become stories. Folks with terminal diseases and no insurance will have relatives in other states who have access to care and the differences will become glaringly apparent. Already Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz have been smacked down by responses to their Facebook polls – they can’t live in a vacuum any longer.
So the good news, if you can call it that, is that the callous duplicity of the Republicans should not and will not go unnoticed. Already, MoveOn.org has put up posters in a dozen red states informing their citizens that their politicians have failed them, and exhorting them to kick the bastards out. Bobby Jindal in Louisiana had the stunning audacity to sue MoveOn, thereby ensuring that the issue will remain on the front pages for many months, maybe right up to the election.
So here is my prediction: one by one, the Republicans will cave or lose. They will either vote to accept the expansion, like New Hampshire, Arizona, and Michigan, or they will be voted out and their successors will implement the change. As each red state steps up, pressure will mount on the holdouts. The ACA – universal healthcare – is too big to stop, and there is no going back. Anyone standing in the way will get steamrolled.
Could Obamacare be the wedge that brings the rural South and West back to the Democratic party? (I can’t believe I actually said that!!). Well maybe not Mississippi or South Carolina or Utah. But certainly Florida and Texas, North Carolina and Virginia. Colorado and Nevada. How about Kentucky and Tennessee and Idaho? Arkansas? Louisiana? Let’s think big here.
But the Democrats HAVE TO STEP UP and SHOUT ABOUT THIS. The Republican position is unsupportable. Already Mark Begich in AK is getting favorable ads up about his support of universal health care. Paul Davis in KS has come out of left field to challenge Sam Brownback, who is dropping like a rock. Alison Lundergan Grimes is posing a serious and unexpected threat to McConnell in KY. Wendy Davis is taking a stand and growing stronger in TX. Other Dems need to follow suit and get the word out. We need to punish every politician who voted to repeal, every governor or legislator who voted against expansion. There is blood on their hands. This is a win-win strategy.
And then we all have to vote in November, that’s key. But if we don’t get it done in November, if the insanity goes on another two years, if people suffer or die needlessly and their stories get told effectively, then I predict a groundswell in 2016. We can, we will, win this one.