Obamacare’s deadline day brought some shocking news: Despite all its problems, the law was on track to hit 7 million sign-ups, the original projection by the Congressional Budget Office prior to HealthCare.gov’s disastrous launch last October.
It’s only a symbolic victory for the White House — Obamacare’s long-term success wasn’t contingent on 7 million sign-ups — but after the troubled rollout that saw the law and the president’s approval ratings sink to all-time lows, it’s surely one that they’ll take. A new analysis also credited the law with covering 9.5 million previously uninsured, a significant decrease in the law’s first year. All in all, a good day for a law that hasn’t had many.
But for Republicans, it signaled the end of some of their favorite Obamacare memes.
More People Have Lost Coverage Than Gained It
RAND Corp, a non-profit think tank, dealt the death blow Monday in a new analysis reported by the Los Angeles Times. The study concluded that less than 1 million people were now uninsured because their previous coverage had been canceled and they hadn’t signed up for a new health plan. The Times estimated that about 9.5 million previously uninsured people had gotten covered.
Which makes these previous proclamations from Republican leaders obsolete.
“The Administration is recognizing the grim reality that more Americans have lost health insurance than gained it under ObamaCare,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said in a Dec. 19 statement.
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) January 2, 2014
Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group assaulting Democrats nationwide over the law, was still trotting out the line this month. “Millions of people have lost their health insurance, millions of people can’t see their own doctors, and millions are paying more and getting less,” said one television ad that PolitiFact rated “False.”
The White House Is Cooking The Books On Obamacare Enrollment
The denial — Obamacare ‘trutherism’, if you will — had started last week when the White House said that enrollment had hit the 6 million mark. Conservatives called the new numbers into question, with Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) going so far as accusing the administration of “cooking the books.” Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) backed that reading in an appearance on Fox News.
But these are mostly semantic arguments. It’s true that some people won’t pay their first premium for their new coverage and the final enrollment number could fall back below 7 million. But Republicans are clearly struggling to process the fact that so many people signed up at all.
How many did exactly — whether it’s 6.8 million or 7.2 million or whatever the final number — is immaterial to the law’s ultimate success. The allegations of impropriety are simply intended to undercut the unexpectedly good news for the law: A lot of people decided they wanted to have health insurance.
Low Enrollment Numbers Prove Americans Don’t Want Obamacare — So We Should Repeal It.
Even though the demand for Obamacare coverage proved to be there in the end, Republicans were still doubling down this week on repeal.
“The president’s health care law continues to wreak havoc on American families, small businesses and our economy,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a Monday statement. “House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law and protect families and small businesses from its harmful consequences.”
Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted #FullRepeal on Monday afternoon. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, released Tuesday, repeals most of Obamacare. These statements came alongside a new poll that found support for the law had broken even for the first time.
The politics of this new reality are still unclear. It remains possible that the Republican base’s hatred of Obamacare, paired with the 2014 fundamentals, could be enough to propel them to victory in November. But at some point, the GOP will have to reconcile its long-held worldview with the fact that millions of people are benefitting from the law.
For today, though, they seem content to rage against the dying of their memes.