In early November, in the midst of the worst of the disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov, Terry McAuliffe beat Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, who defined himself as one of the nation’s foremost opponents of the president’s health care reform, to become the state’s next governor.
“We tested Cuccinelli’s brag that he was the first attorney general to sue to stop Obamacare,” McAuliffe pollster Geoff Garin told The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent. “That actually made more voters less likely to support him than more.”
This didn’t mean the law was popular.
“A majority disapproved of the Affordable Care Act, but in Virginia, as elsewhere, we found that a lot of these voters want to fix the law,” Garin said.
Since then, the federal online health care marketplace languished for a few more weeks as news of cancelations dominated the media. Approval of the law and the president sunk to new lows. But public opinion of the law essentially remains unchanged.
“While the public is hardly enthusiastic about Obamacare, the same polls that show unfavorable attitudes toward the law also show an electorate that isn’t looking to repeal it but rather fix it,” veteran political analyst Charlie Cook wrote last week.
From the moment the Affordable Care Act became law, its critics called it flawed and doomed to fail. The flubbed launch of the health care exchanges reaffirmed this assumption. However, the best way to “fix” it is to give it a chance to be properly implemented.
Numbers released on Monday show that the number of people who picked a plan through the health care exchanges by December 28 was respectable — given that for two out of three months, the key way to pick a plan online was barely functional. While the fate of the law ultimately depends on Democrats retaining control of the presidency, Congress or both, there are promising signs that show that the main fix the law needs — a mostly healthy group of enrollees in all 50 states — still may be possible, even in its first year.
Here are five reasons to be optimistic about the future of Obamacare.
Photo: KentonNgo via Flickr