It’s all over, Obamacare haters! Why they’ve officially lost the battle

With success stories, over 7 million sign-ups and a shift in public opinion, it's time for the right's white flag VIDEO

Topics: Video, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act, Gary Peters, Terri Lynn Land, Americans for Prosperity, AFP, Healthcare.gov, Editor's Picks, The Right, GOP,

It's all over, Obamacare haters! Why they've officially lost the battleEric Cantor, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann (Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Kevin Lamarque/AP/Paul Sancya)

By 11:59:59 p.m. Monday night — the last moment of the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period — sign-ups on Healthcare.gov and 14 state-based exchanges had cleared the symbolic 7 million threshold, according to both administration officials and data experts, and will continue to climb above it over the next few weeks as HHS processes applications from people who were mid-queue when the clock struck midnight.

Throw in new Medicaid enrollments, off-exchange enrollments into Qualified Health Plans, young invincibles on their parents’ plans, and the beneficiary total far exceeds 10 million. On net, millions more people — perhaps about 10 million — are now (or will soon be) insured because of Obamacare than were covered beforehand. That net number will probably be less than initially forecast, but when you account for the fact that almost half of all states didn’t expand Medicaid, and Healthcare.gov effectively experienced a two-month outage last year, you have to be a fanatical Obamacare hater not to call it a comeback.

Now that it’s all over but the shouting, conservatives are watching the mechanisms they’ve employed to discredit enrollment numbers shrink away from them. They are left to think wishfully that the new enrollees will not pay their premiums in overwhelming numbers, or deny that they exist altogether. The universe of Obamacare “success stories” is larger than the universe of Obamacare “horror stories” and many of said horror stories fall apart or are revealed to be ambiguous upon mild scrutiny.

The latest comes — again! — from Michigan, where Americans for Prosperity has been airing attack ad after attack ad against Rep. Gary Peters, who’s running for an open Senate seat against Republican Terri Lynn Land. Here’s their latest:

This segment contains virtually no details, and AFP has declined to provide documentation to support the claim that Obamacare is unaffordable for the Wendt family, because, according to an impressively audacious spokesman, “that’s not what the ad is about.”



But the claim is false. Based on previous public attestations, it was already pretty clear that the Wendts could save a save a significant amount of money by enrolling their children in CHIP, or come out close to even by enrolling everyone in a QHP. and obtaining subsidies. But then this weekend, Shannon Wendt told MLive that after a closer look it turns out her family qualifies for Healthy Michigan — the nearly free expanded Medicaid program — instead. That program launches today.

A couple of notes on this. First, I think it’s reasonable for a family to be annoyed or unhappy about losing an insurance plan they were satisfied with, and having little choice but to transition on to Medicaid. You could say a lot of things about that but “unaffordable” isn’t one of them.

Second, that program wasn’t available on Jan. 1 because Republicans in the state Legislature didn’t want it to be. But that would have saved eligible families a lot of money or worry or both over the first months of the year.

But the most amazing part of this story is that AFP — the group that produced the ad — organized aggressively against the Medicaid expansion in Michigan, and attacked Republicans who helped enact it.

“Expanding Medicaid was a key component of Obamacare and eight GOP lawmakers assisted with the implementation,” AFP Michigan lamented last September. “Michigan will be the 25th state to expand Medicaid; 21 states have refused.”

Obamacare isn’t unaffordable for the Wendts, but if their supposed allies at AFP had their way, it might be.

It’s not that unalloyed horror stories don’t exist. But they’re not nearly as numerous as the law’s critics want you to believe. According to new Rand Corp. data, fewer than a million people whose policies were canceled last year are now uninsured under Obamacare. That number is dwarfed by new enrollments. And that might explain why Obamacare’s public opinion deficit is narrowing and — in at least one poll, if you can even believe it — has disappeared altogether.

AFP’s goal was to exacerbate problems with Obamacare and use those problems in ads designed to defeat Democrats and thus repeal the law. That was probably never going to happen anyhow, but it certainly won’t now. They might defeat some Democrats, but in their grander purpose, they have failed.

If conservatives can plod through the five stages of grief over these developments they’ll not only have to come to terms with larger enrollment figures than they believed possible, but that the Affordable Care Act is basically working as intended.

Two months ago, Bloomberg View columnist Megan McArdle participated in a debate over the law, and argued for the proposition that Obamacare was “beyond rescue.” This week, she ponders, “Is Obamacare beyond repeal?”

She sees the writing on the wall, but can’t quite bring herself to read it aloud. “Does [an enrollment spike] mean that Obamacare will basically be beyond repeal, as its supporters hope?” she asks. “It certainly makes things harder.”

Yes it does.

Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is Salon's political writer. Email him at bbeutler@salon.com and follow him on Twitter at @brianbeutler.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...