At least 3.3 million people have already signed up for health insurance since the exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) opened in October. That number is growing rapidly, with 15,000 new enrollments in exchange plans a day in California alone.
And the Republican plan to deal with Obamacare generally remains what it has been since 2010 — repeal.
This means the millions of men, women and children covered under plans could either see their plans invalidated by insurance companies no longer required to cover pre-existing conditions or have their Medicaid coverage completely erased. Republicans who spent the last three months screaming about how terrible insurance cancelations are would have to explain what happens next for millions of uninsured Americans.
Repeal is a fantasy, a fundraising opportunity that all Republicans — except the few who take Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) seriously — know would never happen. And if it did, they would end up owning every aspect of a crumbling health care system the same way Democrats are currently responsible for every splinter in every tongue depressor.
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent looks at recent polling and finds that though Americans are largely dissatisfied with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, they generally support the federal government’s taking a role in getting people affordable health insurance. More importantly, most are still willing to give the law a chance.
“Only 37 percent support repealing Obamacare entirely,” he writes, “while 53 percent say there are good things in the law and that changes are needed to make it work better.”
Republicans are now in what Sargent calls “The GOP Repeal Trap,” which essentially requires them to vow repeal and pray that somehow the law collapses on its own.
While it may seem absurd to those who care about governing, it makes perfect sense strategically because “replace” is an even bigger fantasy than repeal.
Until it became socialism incarnate, the ACA was the conservative reform to the health care system. So to replace it completely, conservatives would need to go further to the right and destroy the entire employer-provided health insurance paradigm that provides about 85 percent of working adults with their coverage.