UPDATE: How desperate is the Obamacare "bad news" spin getting, you ask? Media Matters:
On March 27, health insurance enrollment through the ACA's exchanges surpassed 6 million, exceeding the revised estimate of enrollees for the program's first year before the March 31 open enrollment deadline. Enrollment appears on track to hit the Congressional Budget Office's initial estimate of 7 million sign-ups, and taking Medicaid enrollees into account, the ACA will have reportedly extended health care coverage to at least 9.5 million previously uninsured individuals.
Fox celebrated the final day of open enrollment by attempting to somehow twist the recent enrollment surge into bad news for the law.
America's Newsroom aired an extremely skewed bar chart which made it appear that the 6 million enrollees comprised roughly one-third of the 7 million enrollee goal…
6 million is one-third of 7 million? Now that's what we call "fuzzy math."
Today marks the deadline to begin the process of signing up for health insurance during the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. "Obamacare," and the Los Angeles Times offers an executive summary of the law's progress:
President Obama's healthcare law, despite a rocky rollout and determined opposition from critics, already has spurred the largest expansion in health coverage in America in half a century, national surveys and enrollment data show.
As the law's initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Some have done so through marketplaces created by the law, some through other private insurance and others through Medicaid, which has expanded under the law in about half the states…
The Affordable Care Act still faces major challenges, particularly the risk of premium hikes next year that could drive away newly insured customers. But the increased coverage so far amounts to substantial progress toward one of the law's principal goals and is the most significant expansion since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
The millions of newly insured also create a politically important constituency that may complicate any future Republican repeal efforts. [Pols emphasis]
This is a great story that cuts through the nonsense with hard facts. Despite the insistence by Republicans opponents of health care reform that there has been a "net reduction" in the number of insured Americans from Obamacare, this report shows that millions of previously uninsured Americans are now covered. Those "millions" alleged by the GOP to have "lost insurance" due to Obamacare simply do not exist.
There's one fundamental reason why Republicans were willing to risk political disaster to stop the rollout of the Affordable Care Act last fall, which included shutting down large portions of the federal government rather than pass spending bills that funded the new law. It's certainly true that since the shutdown, when Republicans were overwhelmingly condemned by the public, the troubled rollout of the health insurance exchanges–including here in Colorado, though our system held up better than the federal exchange–hurt Democrats politically.
But today, with the truth now coming into focus, it's undeniable: millions of Americans are benefiting from Obamacare. And it's becoming more and more obvious with each report on the number of newly insured that Obamacare isn't going anywhere. Before these 9.5 million previously uninsured Americans got insurance, or the millions more who are saving big with premium assistance got that assistance, Obamacare was a less tangible reality–something that could be taken away without as great an outcry. It's arguable that as soon as the early provisions kicked in, like the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions or allowing children to stay on their parents' health plans longer, there was already too many people benefiting for repeal to be a realistic possibility.
But now, it's flat-out impossible to repeal Obamacare without hurting millions of people–and any Republican who is unwilling to admit this is deluding themselves and their audience. As ABC News reports today, even conservative opposition to Obamacare is fading:
Views on the law, as noted, have shifted disproportionately in an unexpected area – among conservatives. While most remain opposed, that’s declined from 81 percent in November to 61 percent now. Similarly, while conservatives are particularly critical of Obama’s handling of the law, this has eased from 84 percent disapproval last fall to 69 percent today.
Independents, potential swing voters in the midterm elections, continue to tilt against the law, with 44 percent in support, 54 percent opposed, but that compares with 36-62 percent last fall. And while just 37 percent of independents approve of Obama’s handling of the rollout, that is 14 points more than its low four and a half months ago.
Among other groups…support for the ACA is up by 16 points vs. November among adults under age 40 – a coveted group for the law’s insurance pools – from 38 percent then to 54 percent now. [Pols emphasis] It’s gained a similar 15 points among those with incomes less than $50,000, from 38 percent then to 53 percent; 14 points among nonwhites, to 68 percent (compared with just 40 percent support among whites); and 12 points among those who lack a college degree, to 46 percent support.
Has it been a long road to this moment for Obamacare? Absolutely. Have there been major stumbles along the way that have given opponents ammunition to keep up their attacks? Of course there have. But as opponents cash in their credibility with increasingly desperate and inaccurate campaign against the law, which growing numbers of Americans can disprove with their own experience, it's clearer by the day who is going to win this long debate in the end. The only question is whether or not that will happen in time for the 2014 elections. As last fall's shutdown raged on, and Republicans reeled from public disapproval of their actions, a very different outcome in 2014 was forecast than after the troubled rollout of the insurance exchange became the dominant narrative.
What will this debate look like six months from now? If we were giving the GOP advice, we'd be very worried about the trajectory here–and looking hard for something else to talk about.