BREAKING: 14 to 20.3 million Americans gaining health insurance may be a good thing
Since news broke that enrollments in the Obamacare exchanges had broken 7 million, there has been a steady stream of positive indications for the law.
Signups in the exchanges continue at impressive pace as the deadline to complete applications nears. Medicaid expansion is taking off in Michigan and will continue all year long. But the best news is this new ad from a Super PAC supporting Alaska senator Mark Begich that makes the most effective case for the law — it ends discrimination against people who’ve gotten sick.
This is an effective message because you know who gets sick? Everyone, eventually.
The bad news is we likely won’t be seeing many ads like this from candidates as Democrats in close elections recognize that the enthusiasm is on the side of repeal, which is less popular than the law nationally but gospel among the GOP base.
Going on the offense, which is always the right strategy, is more challenging when you’re afraid your only inflaming the people most likely to vote in a low-turn out election.
However, there is a huge opportunity for outside groups and supporters of the law to flood the internet with these kinds of testimonials. Film a friend. Speak into a camera. I’m even thinking about how to fund a contest for the best homemade video.
The tide could be turning for this law and personal stories — along with stern indictments of the incredible cruelty of denying Medicaid expansion — could transform the political landscape. And there are signs the shift has already begun.
And though the approval of the law is only up 5 percent from Gallup’s all-time low in January, there’s been a sharp drop in people who say the law is making things worse for them.
The bungled roll out of Healthcare.gov aligned with purposely misleading cancellation notices mitigated what many Obamacare advocates saw as the law’s best hope for becoming popular: While about 85 percent of Americans would not be affected by the law, a vast majority of the 15 percent who were would find that they benefited from subsidies and Medicaid expansion. Then their family and friends would see that the law’s benefits could be life changing.
In advocates’ imagination, or at least my imagination, these testimonials combined with the benefits all Americans get — free preventative care, the consumer protections and promise you will never be denied coverage — would make the law a net positive in 2014. Then it would be on its way to be as engrained as Medicare and Social Security.
We are closer to that reality today that we have been in six months.
In the naive part of my brain, it’s still amazing to me that the fact that 14 to 20.3 million Americans, according to ACASignups.net, have gained health insurance because of the ACA isn’t widely considered a miracle. But the political environment we’re in feeds on the fear of falling out of the middle class that conservative politics has fostered.
Obamacare gives working people new freedom, new hope and new opportunities by making a fundamental — yet still imperfect — promise of basic health coverage. Now we just need the people who are benefiting from the law to explain how it’s working for them.