The most progressive part of the Affordable Care Act is working the best.
There’s no doubt that the craptacular launch of Healthcare.gov will go down in history with the vice-presidential nomination of Sarah Palin as one of the early 21st century’s great unforced errors.
Calling it Obama’s Katrina is absurd, but we can’t ignore the fact that people will die if the ACA doesn’t work.
The inability of Americans to get a sense of the insurance options they have and the subsidies available to them as we launch the greatest transformation of our health care system in generations has left a giant void filled with “horror stories.” These vague nightmares get huge headlines then disappear when they often turn out to be be bunk, or Obamacare success stories.
But you can’t spin away the crisis that Healthcare.gov has created and the need for a “Plan B” given that an immediate fix doesn’t look likely.
However, we also must not fail to celebrate a historic success that will likely ensure that health care reform will not be going away: At least 444,000 people have signed up for Medicaid in the six weeks since open enrollment began.
This 444,000 number comes from just 10 states of the 25 plus Washington D.C. that will be expanding their Medicaid programs.
These are exactly the people we need to be covering, too. They are from working families who currently earn too much for government-subsidized health care, the working poor who have suffered the most from the great recession. Covering them will reduce their depression and financial strain in the near term. It can keep them out of emergency rooms while creating jobs in health care. And best of all, it’s paid for on a slight tax on the rich and corporations.
In an era where income inequality is our greatest problem, this is a huge victory for those at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder — even if Republicans are denying it to millions of deserving families.
This success can dramatically changing the debate. Republicans are now talking about people keeping their plans instead of repeal.
It’s not beyond their massive hypocrisy, but transitioning from a crusade to help Americans keep their plans to one where they take insurance from at least half a million Americans will be tough even for the “get your government hands of my Medicare” people.
This is a dark yet crucial time for this irreplaceable health law. Republicans smell blood on a compromised promise that the president made that’s far more true than nearly any of the promises they make.
But know this: Every person who signs up for Medicaid makes this law more permanent.
Republican arguments against this law are all bullshit. If it were socialized medicine, we’d all be on Medicare come January 1. If it’s “the greatest job killer ever” as serial liar Ted Cruz claims, why we have we created more jobs each year since it passed? And every replacement Republicans are offering would lead to more insurance cancellations and the same online health care marketplaces that are now vexing the president.
Failure is not an option for this massive victory for the middle class. And we must not let most progressive part of these reforms be ignored in the histrionics of a party that will take health insurance away from millions of poor Americans if we let them.
[CC image credit: Will O’Neill | Flickr.]