On Oct. 1, 2013 — the first day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — only six people were able to enroll for health care coverage through healthcare.gov. Six people total.
Through the well-documented laundry list of glitches, miscalculations on server capacity and crashes of the website, only 106,000 Americans managed to enroll for health care coverage by the end of October 2013. By any definition, the launch of the ACA was a disastrous one. Even to the supporters of President Obama, it looked like Armageddon. Game over, man? It felt that way.
Obama’s political foes were literally licking their lips and clapping their hands in glee. The boo birds smelled blood in the water and they were quick to pronounce this law dead. Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said: “This may be the most stunning example of overpromising and underdelivering in recent U.S. history. Based on my review, the problems with the healthcare.gov website are catastrophic.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) opined: “When you step back and look at the totality of this, I don’t think it’s ever going to work.”
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) has relentlessly declared since 2010: “Most businesses the administration estimates between 39 and 69 percent will not be able to keep the coverage that they have… this new regulation appears to ignore the impact it will have in the real world. It’ll drive up costs and reduce the number of people who will have insurance.”
Those are but three predictions from a countless number of Republican pundits and politicians who went on record to voice their opinions that Obamacare would not, could not and should not ever be successful. Here’s the thing, though. It was successful. It is successful, which nobody can deny.
Two weeks ago, President Obama announced that more than 8 million Americans have signed up for health care through Obamacare. Eight million plus. As Vice President Joe Biden once famously said: “This is a big, freaking* deal!” (* — Biden didn’t say freaking, but this is a family newspaper. I approximated.)
Here’s what the president had to say at a recent White House briefing: “This law won’t solve all the problems in our health care system. We know we’ve got more work to do. But we now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans and take insurance away from millions more, which is why I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been. They still can’t bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working.”
Then Obama went on offense: “They said nobody would sign up. They were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country. There were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer. These endless, fruitless repeal efforts come at a cost. The 50 or so votes Republicans have taken to repeal this law could have been 50 votes to create jobs — investing in things like infrastructure or innovation. Or 50 votes to make it easier for middle class families to send their kids to college. Or 50 votes to raise the minimum wage or restore unemployment insurance that they let expire for folks who are working hard to find a new job. The point is: the repeal debate is and should be over. I recognize that their party is going through the stages of grief: anger, denial, and all that stuff. We’re not at acceptance yet. If the Republicans want to spend the next 6 months or year talking about repeal… instead of wanting to talk about jobs and the economic situations of families all across America, then that’s their prerogative.”
Republicans, consider yourselves dunked on by the president. Again.
Fact: 3.9 million Americans have signed up for ACA healthcare coverage since March 1. Fact: including children, 35 percent of people who signed up throughout the open enrollment period were under the age of 35. Fact: the 8 million Americans who signed up via the ACA do not include the millions of consumers who purchased plans directly from health insurance companies or through a private agent/broker. Fact: healthcare.gov is already being optimized for its next open enrollment period. Fact: at least 7-8 million more Americans are expected to sign up through the healthcare exchanges between October and March 2015.
I thought the Atlanta Falcons would go to — and win — the Super Bowl in 2014. I was wrong. The GOP was convinced that Obamacare would crash and burn. They were wrong. In both cases, I think it’s safe to declare “game over.” Can we please move on? Pretty please?