If you have Republicans in your family, be prepared. They’re going to be ready to gloat.
And maybe they even deserve a chance to rub it in… for a moment.
Obamacare was passed without one Republican vote after Massachusetts — Massachusetts! — elected a Republican senator to try to stop it. The promises that were made that everyone could keep their plans couldn’t be kept. The Healthcare.gov launch was a disaster.
These things are all true. Republicans spent the last few years predicting this law would destroy America, the economy and the Hobby Lobby with death panels. None of these things happened, but the rollout of the law’s key reforms has been a mess. Now, Republicans are sure that there’s no way in hell that the law can ever work now.
If the president’s health care reform is to survive, the end of November 2013 will have been the low point of the story. As you know from the movies, that’s the point where things either improve drastically — or explode. They’re hoping for the latter and would rather not hear anything that might dispel that belief.
So let them get in their 10 variations of the “If you like your pumpkin pie, you can keep it” jokes. Then see if you can sneak in a few things that would make them feel optimistic about America’s health care system — if that wouldn’t be a good thing for Obama.
If you’re up against a particularly rough crowd, here are some quick preambles that might help you:
I heard on Fox News that…
I just read an email forward that said…
What nobody in the Obama administration wants to admit about Benghazi is…
Then hit them with one of these five facts.
Photo: Geoff Stearns via Flickr
Americans — Who Aren’t Republicans — Want To Give The Law A Chance
Kentucky has reduced its uninsured population by 9 percent in less than two months. This is a remarkable success that if it were replicated nationwide would mean that more than four million Americans would already be covered by the Affordable Care Act.
The Bluegrass State did everything right. It expanded Medicaid to residents earning up to 133 percent of the poverty level and built its own health care exchange. However, so did Oregon. The Beaver State has also reduced its uninsured by about a tenth, thanks to Medicaid, but it still has not signed up one person through its online exchange.
Despite the indefensible troubles with the exchanges, a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday shows the public still believes that the law can work.
“Fifty-four percent of voters are confident the problems with the law will be worked out,” writes Talking Points Memo‘s Josh Marshall. “And while 58 percent currently disapprove of the law, 14 percent of those disapprove because it’s not liberal enough. So it’s not at all the case that a sizable majority want to go back to the bad old system.”
And who are the people who believe the law can’t work? By and large, they’re Republicans — the same people who supported the unprecedented — and contemptible — attempts to sabotage it.
“Independents say it’s too soon to tell [if the law can work] by 55-41; moderates by 58-35. But Republicans overwhelmingly believe it’s a failure by 70-25,” writes The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent.
The cancelation notices are out and the websites are as bad as they’re ever going to get, yet most people want to give the law a chance. So pass the mashed potatoes, please.
Photo: Patrick Feller via Flickr
Rejecting Medicaid Expansion Raises Rates By As Much As 15 Percent
Republicans are furious that Obamacare is canceling people’s insurance and demanding they pay more for new policies. But that’s what Republican governors are doing when they turn down Medicaid expansion for more than five million Americans.
When the Supreme Court ruled states could reject Obamacare’s provision to cover people who earn up to 138 percent of the poverty level, 25 Republican-led states took the opportunity to do just that — even though the federal government is paying 100 percent of the cost for three years, which will taper down to 90 percent by the end of the decade.
As a result of Republican obstinance, residents of these states are paying 15 percent more in health care exchanges, according to MIT’s Jonathan Gruber, and putting rural hospitals in the states in danger of closing. Rejecting Medicaid expansion also encourages those in poverty to remain there or lose their health insurance.
Texas, where 1 in 4 residents lacks health insurance, is denying about one million people health insurance through Medicaid.
The cruelty of denying Medicaid expansion can also be measured in lives. An independent analysis by the Rand Corporation found that the result of just 14 of 25 states not expanding could be as many as 19,000 people dying for lack of insurance each year.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
Millions Of Americans Had Their Insurance Canceled And Their Premiums Rise — Before Obamacare
“The health insurance industry is racing to defuse a growing furor over retroactive policy cancelations that have saddled some patients with big medical bills and sparked lawsuits,” the Wall Street Journal‘s Rhonda Rundle wrote in February of 2008.
Some people who like their plans may have lost them this year but before Obamacare became law, the private individual insurance market was a mess.
Health insurers praised employees who helped drop sick customers. Buyers kept their insurance for two years on average. Premiums exploded, doctors were removed from networks and plans were canceled, sometimes right when they were needed most.
Since Obamacare, health care costs have grown at the lowest rate ever recorded.
Millions of people did have their plans canceled this year — either because the plan didn’t meet minimum standards or the insurance industry didn’t want to offer it to people with pre-existing conditions. But unlike those who lost their insurance in the past, they will be able to get a plan, whether they’re sick or not.
AFP Photo/Chip Somodevilla
More Than 99 Percent Will Pay The Same Or Less Under Obamacare
Fewer than 1 percent — .6 percent — of the population will pay more for their health insurance under Obamacare.
“Families USA’s finding of 0.6 percent was based on data showing that only 5.7 percent of the non-elderly population have individual—as opposed to group—health coverage and that just 29 percent of that group have family incomes that are higher than the limits for subsidies,” writes CNBC’s Dan Mangan. “And just one-third of that smaller group would be expected to remain in the individual market for longer than a year, given its historical turnover.”
The vast majority will pay the same or less for health insurance that’s as good as or better than what they had before.
As many as 26 million Americans will receive subsidies to help buy coverage and millions more will be completely covered under Obamacare.
This isn’t going to be a relief to those who have to pay more but they now have access to a system where sick children and adults cannot be discriminated against. And if they don’t like paying more, they can advocate for a public option that would save billions by offering lower rates.
AFP Photo/Karen Bleier
If You Repeal Obamacare, You’ll Pay
Right now, President Obama owns America’s health care system.
Any cancelation, any dropped doctor, any splinter in any tongue depressor is on him.
Time‘s Mike Grunwald put the president’s challenge in context like this:
That liar Obama said gay marriage wouldn’t hurt straight marriage but I know a couple that’s getting divorced! #obamacare
— Michael Grunwald (@MikeGrunwald) November 26, 2013
If Republicans were to repeal this law because of cancelations and rising premiums, they would immediately return to a health care system with cancelations and skyrocketing premiums. Some of those cancelations would go to parents of kids with pre-existing conditions — like Batkid — who may never be able to find another insurer.
Every day there are more Obamacare success stories.
“Well, thank God,” Ronald Hudson — an uninsured Kentucky man who works with the elderly and recently racked up $23,000 in hospital bills — said, after finding out he qualified for Medicaid. “I believe I’m going to be a Democrat.”
How do you think Hudson and the more than a million Americans who have already signed up through the exchanges for a private plan or Medicaid would react?
By adopting the criticisms they have, Republicans have made repeal nearly impossible.
For years, Democrats have been saying that Republicans’ greatest fear is that Obamacare would work. Now that it’s struggling, their greatest fear is that it doesn’t, because then what we’ll be left with is a health care system with more than 45 million uninsured that’s slowing down our economy and exploding our long-term deficit with costs growing far faster than inflation.
And Republicans will own it.
Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr