Though the paper of record does its frustrating best to bury the implications in an innocuous headline, this week The New York Times published an assortment of answers to the question, “Is the Affordable Care Act Working?” Leveraging seven specific subqueries, a variety of writers evaluate the data one year from the official rollout of Obamacare, assessing the legislation’s early efficacy.
If readers are able to get past the meaningless non-reporting of the piece’s opening summary, there is plenty of good news to be found:
“After a year fully in place, the Affordable Care Act has largely succeeded in delivering on President Obama’s main promises, an analysis by a team of reporters and data researchers shows. But it has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash.”
Let’s take a step back from the inexplicably conflicted tone of this summation and jump right into question one, asked and answered by writer Margot Sanger-Katz. The legislation’s first and most important goal was deceptively simple: lower the number of the hardworking uninsured, who live just one accident or illness away from financial ruin. So, “Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced?”
The answer just 12 months later is a resounding yes. Per Sanger-Katz, “The number of Americans without health insurance has been reduced by about 25 percent this year — or eight million to 11 million people.” The detailed response offers a number of facts, figures and charts that elaborate on the myriad ways in which formerly shutout people are now able to avail themselves of at least basic coverage – the extension of benefits to young adults attached to parental policies, expansion of Medicaid (despite 23 red states rejecting the aid for purely shameful, partisan reasons), etc.
Honestly, were the analysis to stop there, it would be material enough for supportive Democratic candidates to tout in the last few days of midterm campaigning. At the same time, the unbendable numbers should leave obstinate Republicans who did everything possible to stop Obamacare’s implementation with a lot of ‘splaining to do. We know by now, of course, that neither of these scenarios will occur. I propose a new slogan for the Affordable Care Act: Obamacare -The Most Successful Legislation in Recorded History for Which No One Wants Credit.
In the interest of brevity, I am going to skip a few other answered questions in the Times piece that point to significant patient benefits – expanded coverage at mostly affordable costs, and an end to the pre-existing conditions nightmare. Right about now you may be asking yourself: This is the 21st Century and corporations are people! How have the lowly insurers fared in this great sea change? I give you the piece’s fifth question and answer:
“Has the health care industry been helped or hurt by the law? Wall Street Analysts See Financial Boon Across the Health Care Spectrum.”
How is this possible given the immense howling we heard from the right about the threats to private sector and business growth? Writer Reed Abelson observes, “From the beginning, opponents of the Affordable Care Act have warned that it represented a ‘government takeover’ of the health care system that would lead to crippling regulations on both for-profit companies and nonprofit players. But to the contrary, Wall Street analysts and health care experts say, the industry appears to be largely flourishing, in part because of the additional business the law created.”
In another words, exactly NONE of the oft-shouted objections to reforming America’s broken health care system came to fruition. Not a one. Everyone wins except for the low-income uninsured, who remain so thanks to the cruelty of their Republican governors. This should be a huge asset to struggling Democratic candidates and a kick in the teeth to overconfident Repubs. But it won’t be. And why? Because somewhere along the way, almost every single legislator as well as the mass media decided to buy into the GOP’s narrative. Obamacare is a very bad thing.
Even the “liberal rag” New York Times offers no assistance in righting this ideological injustice. How to else to explain the throwaway last sentence of the article’s opening summary: “[Obamacare] has also fallen short in some ways and given rise to a powerful conservative backlash.” Um, so what? Show me a piece of perfect legislation and I’ll show you a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Also, here’s a short list of other forces that have given rise to “powerful conservative backlash:” a woman’s right to make family planning choices, the normal functioning of government and the living and breathing of one Barack Obama.
The numbers are out. Will they make a dent in the collective ACA dithering, hair-splitting and denial in time to make a difference at the polls?