The Obamacare Effect

Obama Administration

Be sure to see “Saved by Obamacare,” by fiction writer Elizabeth Hand. The article is not fiction; it’s about her experience with the ACA and why she’s grateful for it.

The wonder is, why isn’t the Administration, or some progressive group like MoveOn making ads with such stories to run in mass media? I honesty don’t understand. Maybe somebody is doing this, but I haven’t seen it. Or maybe powder is being saved until we’re closer to the midterm election. But they don’t want to wait too long, I don’t think.

At this point it’s obvious to all but the most demented that the ACA is working about as well as originally hoped. Which is to say it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad.

Speaking of which, as conservatives are trying to suss out White House manipulation of the Census Bureau, Obamacare keeps on doing exactly what it was intended to do. This week the Congressional Budget Office found that Obamacare will cover more people for less money than initially estimated, and that insurance premiums likely will not spike next year, thus driving a stake through three core conservative attacks on the health law.

Health insurers, who just last month were floating anonymous warnings of massive premium increases, are now starting to warm to the state health exchanges. “At least two major national insurers intend to expand their offerings,” reported Politico on April 16, “although a handful of big players like Aetna, Humana and Cigna, are keeping their cards close for now. None of the big-name insurers have signaled plans to shrink their presence or bail altogether after the first rocky year. And a slew of smaller health plans are already making moves to join more states or get into the Obamacare business for the first time.”

Ezra Klein writes that Republicans suffer from Obamacare Derangement Syndrome.

Today, the right struggles with Obamacare Derangement Syndrome: the acute inability to see Obamacare as anything but a catastrophic failure that the American people will soon reject. For those suffering from ODS, all bad Obamacare news is good news, and all good Obamacare news is spin. In this world, delays of minor provisions in the law prove that the entire structure is collapsing, while surges of millions of people enrolling in insurance don’t prove anything at all.

ODS has kept Republicans from updating their mental model of how Obamacare is doing. To them, the law’s disastrous rollout proved that it was doomed. The fact that it recovered beyond anyone’s expectations — literally, not a single analyst or policymaker I spoke to in December thought it credible that the exchanges would sign up 7 million by April, much less 7.5 million — hasn’t made much of an impression.

Most of them aren’t changing their rhetoric in light of changing realities. This is mostly because they’ve put themselves in a box with the base. They’ve been telling the base that no terms but unconditional surrender will be accepted — repeal, in other words — and the base will interpret any GOP waffling or compromise as failure.

There are still many good critiques to make of Obamacare. But Republicans don’t want to critique Obamacare. They want to stop it. Repeal it. They want to make it the hill big-government liberalism dies upon. And those in the party who know better continue to be cowed by those in the party who don’t. So long as Ted Cruz is going to New Hampshire promising that Obamacare can be stopped, no Republican can step before the faithful and outline a plan for how it can be tweaked.

And they can’t come up with an alternative plan, because the ACA WAS their alternative plan.

The other problem for the White House is that many think Obamacare is basically working despite the Obama administration’s best efforts. The roll-out really was a disaster, the law remains unpopular, and estimations of the Obama administration’s competence are still low. The public would gladly flock to a political party that had a real plan for improving Obamacare, and a serious claim to being able to manage it more professionally. Luckily for the Obama administration, ODS ensures Republicans are still far, far away from being that party.

Someday historians may look back at 2013-2014 and conclude the terrible ACA website rollout worked in Democrats’ favor. It persuaded Republicans that a no compromises opposition to Obamacare would be a winning issue for them in 2014, and now they are so utterly committed to that I don’t think they can change. But neither do I think it will work for them all that well.

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  1. uncledad  •  Apr 17, 2014 @1:49 pm

    “Most of them aren’t changing their rhetoric in light of changing realities. This is mostly because they’ve put themselves in a box with the base”

    Normally one would have to agree but the “base” for the wingers only hear the rhetoric the wing-nut media spoon feeds them, so why adjust their rhetoric to reality? The wing-nuts are immune to reality and unfortunately even “mainstream” outlets are either reporting the doomsday propaganda or just ignoring the improving news for the ACA. ABC just hired Laura Ingram as a contributor for Pete’s sake, who’s next Alex Jones? If the ACA continues to improve it will of course cost the republicants in the long run but they are only concerned about 2014, they will figure out how to steal the next election when the time comes!

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 17, 2014 @1:55 pm

    When we Liberals and Democrats were accused of having Bush Derangement Syndrome, and least we had some solid reasons:
    -The SCOTUS put Bush in The Oval Office.
    -He gave tax cuts to the richest.
    -His mis-administration ignored all sorts to AOOOGA-AOOOGA-AOOOGO bells, sirens, and whistles, warning about 9/11.
    -He sent the military into Afghanistan, and didn’t let them finish the job because
    -He and “The Dastardly” Dick “Of Death” Cheney were salivating to go into Iraq for the oil.
    -Bye-bye to Habeas Corpus.
    -Change to credit and bankruptcy laws.
    -ECONOMIC DISASTER, bordering on another Great Depression.

    Here’s what Obama Derangement Syndrome consists of:
    -Hating the black guy, who they call a Kenyan SocialiFasciCommuniHeatheMusliAtheist Usurper, because he beat two elderly Republicans, and their comic sidekick’s.
    -And he got a national health care policy started.

    So, who’s REALLY deranged?

  3. joanr16  •  Apr 17, 2014 @5:00 pm

    8 million now enrolled. Not sure what that really means, but in announcing “Obamacare’s Best News Day Since 2010,” Huffington Post is blaring the ginormous headline: GLITCH, PLEASE!

    At least our side has a viable sense of humor.

  4. Doug  •  Apr 17, 2014 @6:39 pm

    Where’s the ‘replace’ feature of the ‘repeal and replace’ mantra? The House has repealed Obamacare 42 (or so) times. Not a single reform plan has made it out of committee (or is likely to IMO).

    SO what drives the obsession to repeal absent any plan to reform? I’m not convinced by the excuses for repeal which change more often than the wind. The fact that opposition ‘reasons’ shift so frequently make the vehement, vitriolic opposition suspect not for it’s depth and sincerity, but for the underlying motive.

    I see the opposition to Obamacare in a metaphor. A man on a ladder is trying to crush the fingers of the man below him by stepping down on him, trying to make him fall. In the heart of the conservative whose opposition is emotional, rather than rational, the influx of the unworthy into the health care system he sees as a threat because at an emotional level, he thinks services he’s entitled to will become less available or unavailable. It’s a life and death competition and he’s entitled to kill the opposition because they are unworthy.

    The wealthy will always have an advantage when it comes to a valuable commodity. That includes health care. I accept that reality, but I can’t accept that in a country where all men are created equal, the poorest will suffer (I mean real pain.) and even die for infirmities which can be treated. Christ healed the sick and never charged – how can anyone who calls themselves Christian seek to impose suffering on strangers by severing access to care.

  5. Swami  •  Apr 18, 2014 @1:09 am

    I agree with you, Doug. If you click on the link above for Obama Derangement Syndrome and look at the picture you’ll a guy holding a sign that reads: Thank for subsidizing my poor life choices. That sentiment has to be the predominant factor that drives the ODS people. They see Obamacare as supporting and encouraging a moral failure. It’s the same underlying sentiment that Paulie was “inarticulate” about when he classified all inner city blacks* as inherently lazy and satisfied to live life on the dole. That’s how they perceive anybody who can’t keep up with the herd.

    God forbid that adversity or misfortune should overtake them and they’d be forced to reckon with the concept of compassion.

    * implied but not expressed.

  6. Chocura750  •  Apr 18, 2014 @10:03 am

    A good website on Obamacare signups is
    Why doesnt someone tell the peaple who say the ACA resulted in the loss of their doctor that the person who lost their doctor can call the doctor’s office and find out which health insurance company covers the doctor. Then they can call the the health insurance company and get a policy.

  7. moonbat  •  Apr 18, 2014 @11:33 am

    You can tell, for any given subject, when conservatives are on their last legs, when they start protesting that the numbers are manipulated. Reality just can’t be this way!

    It’s going to interesting to watch them trim their sails on Obamacare as the November election arrives. To their base – they’ll have to play to their ODS; to everyone else, they’ll have to tone it down.

    It’s just going to be interesting to see how “Acceptance” arrives. What’s so cool about this is that no Republican has figured out a way to adjust the ACA – anything they come up with just doesn’t stick. And so they’re stuck in an all or nothing position.