This is exactly what Republicans were afraid of: people crying over Obamacare.
When the [Affordable Care Act] exchange opened—17 minutes later than the 8 a.m. scheduled start time—the website and call centers were flooded with inquiries. Walsh said that in the first few hours “it was just raw emotion calling in.” People eager for insurance, at times in tears, wanted to get coverage that they didn’t have before. “They were calling up saying, ‘Can I get my coverage today so I can see my doctor this afternoon?’” he says. “That is in one sense moving but also frustrating because, sure, you can sign up—but the coverage can’t be effective until Jan. 1.”
These tears were falling, of course, because Obamacare cannot get here fast enough for millions of people.
The polls on the president’s signature legislative achievement have always been easy to misread and exploit. Many Americans want the law to go further. Many Americans prefer the Affordable Care Act to Obamacare. For the people who need the law the most, there was always frustration that it wouldn’t be implemented faster. And for many if not most Americans, there were always the lingering questions — fueled by a ridiculous propaganda campaign from the right — about what the law will actually do.
For nearly all the 85 percent of Americans who have health insurance, reform will likely have no noticeable effect on their lives whatsoever, except to make their insurance stronger and their insurers more accountable. But for the 15 percent of the country that is uninsured, it will mean tears… often of joy.
Too many working poor people in red states who should be able to get fully subsidized insurance from Medicaid expansion won’t get any help in the form of subsidies at all, thanks to their state’s Republicans. For them, there will be real sobbing and real misery.
But for the rest of the uninsured — the millions who have been putting off care, the millions who have been living in fear that getting sick will cost them everything, the million with pre-existing conditions craving the freedom to pursue a career without being tied to an employer — there will be happy tears.
That’s why the GOP base hates this law.
It’s been said a million times, but if Republicans actually believed Obamacare was going to be the disaster they insist it will be, they’d just sit back and watch the Democratic Party implode. Instead, the Affordable Care Act and the likelihood it will work presents a perfect storm that riles Tea Partiers and evangelicals, and encourages Republicans to respond with their patented apocalyptic mindset.
Obamacare activates a primal fear in the GOP’s mostly white base that something is being taken from “us” and given to “them.” They fear this not only will lead to a deterioration in the quality of their lives, but a strengthening of Democratic power by using “dependency” on the government.
The actual details of the law — like the fact that it requires the “personal responsibility” so near and dear to conservative hearts through the individual mandate — don’t matter. Like Ayn Rand taking Medicaid and Social Security, they only see — and fear — others becoming dependent on the government. Ironically, the mandate is the key portion of the law Republicans are trying to delay in exchange for reopening the government — at least that was their final offer last week.