over at The Washington Post
highlights the amazing work of Kossack brainwrap
(Charles Gaba), who has been tracking ACA signups:
Charles Gaba has been going to painstaking efforts to show the trajectory of health law sign-ups over the past three months. His graph (which is better viewed here, on his Web site) gives a helpful visual sense of what the last month has looked like for health-care enrollment. This uses all available data, including the monthly, federal reports and more up-to-date state data, too. [...]
By Gaba's count, we're at 5.75 million sign-ups, between those who have enrolled in private plans and those who have qualified for the Medicaid program. The balance still tips toward public plan enrollments, but, as the chart cautions, this is still preliminary data. If we do see a similar December enrollment spike among the federally run state markets, that will be a pretty quick turn-around from October's dismal showing. If not, though, that's going to make the next three months of open enrollment, which runs until March 31, all the more crucial.
And the Associated Press
reminds us that a shaky rollout doesn't mean the whole program is doomed:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced heavy skepticism with his launch of Social Security in 1935-37. Turbulence also rocked subsequent key presidential initiatives, including Lyndon Johnson's rollout of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, Richard Nixon's Supplemental Security Income program in 1974 and George W. Bush's Medicare prescription drugs program in 2006.
Yet these programs today are enormously popular with recipients.
Much more below the fold.
Ryan Cooper at The Washington Post urges Democrats to run on, not from, health insurance reform in 2014:
A new poll shows that the Democratic edge on the generic congressional ballot has evaporated, and Republicans now have a slight edge. Unsurprisingly, this is stoking panic in moderate Democratic circles, where they rightly blame the bungled Obamacare rollout for their poor position.
The typical moderate Democrat instinct here is to make some move toward the Republican side. But no amount of distancing themselves from the president or Obamacare will help. In fact, if they are to rescue their electoral fortunes, the answer is more liberal health-care reform, not less.
destroys the GOP claim that ACA is killing the economy:
The latest GDP numbers are bad news for Obamacare critics.
You would think everyone would be happy when the Commerce Department announced our economy grew by a whopping 4.1 percent in the third quarter of this year. But according to the naysayers, that wasn't supposed to happen.
One of their biggest complaints against Obamacare was it would stifle the economy. Penalties and fines would raise the cost of doing business. High premiums would impoverish middle-class families. Forcing businesses to offer health insurance to full-time employees would make them switch to part-time employees — or stop hiring altogether.
Yet, the more of the law that's implemented, the better the economy seems to perform. How can that be?
at The Daily Beast
points out something really important lost in all the inside baseball talk about Obamacare:
In 19 countries, 100 percent of the population is covered via public insurance. In 11 more, more than 95 percent are covered the same way. So all but four countries basically provide universal or near-universal public coverage. In Turkey, Mexico, and Chile, between 70 and 80 percent are covered—also publicly. In the United States, that number is 26.4 percent. That’s the seniors, the veterans, and the very poor who get direct public health care. We then add 54.9 percent who get private coverage. No other country even bothers with private coverage at all, except Germany a little bit (10.8 percent). Our two numbers add up to 81.3 percent, ranking us 31st out of the 34. The rest of the advanced world, in other words, with not all that much fuss and contention, has come around to the idea that health coverage is a right.
As I think back over 2013, in my sunnier moments, I try to think of it as the year that future historians will point to as the time when the United States finally and grudgingly started joining this world consensus. Sometime in the 2030s, after Medicare for all has passed and we’re finally and sensibly paying taxes for preventive cradle-to-grave care, people will note—with pride!—that the long process started with Obamacare (yes, conservatives: I’m admitting gleefully that the elephant’s nose is under the door, so spare yourselves the trouble of thinking you’re clever by tweeting it!).
Over at The Los Angeles Times
, the editors profile the do-nothing Congress:
It's official: The Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate agreed on so few issues this year, Congress is on pace to pass the fewest bills in a two-year term since World War II. Pundits have compared the current occupants of Capitol Hill unfavorably to the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1947-48, which was a dynamo in comparison. Lawmakers passed 1,729 bills in that two-year term, compared to 58 in the first year of this one. Unless something changes dramatically in the second half of the 113th Congress, it will be the least productive in modern memory.
Yet the paltry number of bill signings coincides with a stunning inability to do the basic job of governance, let alone tackle bigger and more divisive issues. The legislative branch's most fundamental task is to authorize federal programs and appropriate money each year for the agencies to carry them out. This year, not only could lawmakers not get most of the spending bills through their own chambers, they couldn't agree on a stopgap bill to keep the government open, leading to a costly 16-day shutdown.
Finally, in a very important piece, Paul Krugman
profiles the plight of the employed
[E]mployment is a power relationship, and high unemployment has greatly weakened workers’ already weak position in that relationship.
We can actually quantify that weakness by looking at the quits rate — the percentage of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs (as opposed to being fired) each month. Obviously, there are many reasons a worker might want to leave his or her job. Quitting is, however, a risk; unless a worker already has a new job lined up, he or she doesn’t know how long it will take to find a new job, and how that job will compare with the old one.