You can say what you want about Obamacare, but you can’t call it a failure. It is turning into a political and practical success story, and it is gaining momentum every day.
So much had been focused in the media on the shortcomings, failures and setbacks in the initial implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Now granted, the rollout was rocky, and the website, Healthcare.gov, suffered from flaws so many glitches and shutdowns that critics dismissed it as an abysmal failure.
And yet, take a look at the successes: Obamacare has hit 3 million enrollments, a sign the administration has turned the corner on the healthcare reform law. And the White House has a fighting chance of meeting its initial goal of 7 million enrolled by the end of March.
Further, with the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, more than 6.3 million Americans are now eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. As many as 4 million new people signed up for Medicaid since October 1. With millions of people who did not have access to healthcare or who could not otherwise afford it now having it, now that is what you call progress.
Meanwhile, with 60 days left for open enrollment in Obamacare, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds more people are becoming comfortable with the health care law. Negative perceptions of the rollout have decreased from 76 percent in December to 66 percent today. And while 71 percent of people encountered problems on the health care website, those experiencing successes soared from 24 percent in December to 40 percent today.
According to a poll from the National Association for Business Economics, the vast majority of businesses—75 percent— said that the Affordable Care Act will have no impact on their business conditions, while 85 percent said it would not change their hiring plans.
For a concept fraught with such partisan division as Obamacare, the Republican criticism was made to order. And why not? This is politics. The GOP had a vested interest in the failure of the President’s ambitious initiative. They knew if he succeeded, and apparently he has, the Democrats could solidify their support among voters, with millions of happy customers.
There is no other way to explain the doomsday scenario by the Tea Party, with their cries of government intrusion, and their prediction of death panels, socialism, fascism, and any number of isms designed to scare people into rejecting Obamacare. The country has been down this road before.
Let us not forget that in the 1930s under President Roosevelt, critics of Social Security labeled the program as socialism and prohibitively expansive government control. One Republican lawmaker at the time predicted “The lash of the dictator will be felt, and 25 million free American citizens will for the first time submit themselves to a fingerprint test.”
In 1961, Ronald Reagan, acting as hired help for the American Medical Association, warned of the perils of the Democratic initiative later known as Medicare.
“One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project, most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it,” Reagan said in a recorded speech. “Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it.”
“[Y]ou demand the continuation of our free enterprise system. You and I can do this. The only way we can do it is by writing to our congressmen even we believe that he is on our side to begin with,” Reagan added, urging the public to act.
“If you don’t, this program I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow and behind it will come other government programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country until one day as Normal Thomas said we will wake to find that we have socialism, and if you don’t do this and I don’t do this, one of these days we are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”
Contrary to the naysayers, the sky did not fall, and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid made America better. In fact, these programs enriched our lives. They evolved and expanded along the way, just as Obamacare undoubtedly will evolve.
And yet, there are valid criticisms of Obamacare, which was a political compromise made in a Washington, DC sausage factory, providing what some regard as a universal right within the constraints of the for-profit, free market system. For example, progressives preferred a public option, or a government run, single-payer system, or simply Medicare for all.
For now, after the public was bombarded with nonstop coverage of the Obamacare website failure, now things are operating smoothly and there is relative silence.
Meanwhile, three Republican senators— Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)— have proposed an alternative to Obamacare. You can hear crickets chirp. Good luck with that.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove