While the rollout of the federal exchange was … problematic, those problems have been mostly ironed out. No, it’s not “perfect,” but it’s apparent that it’s well on track to performing as it should. Will it ever not have glitches? No, but that’s the nature of information technology, particularly any complex system. It also won’t be for everyone, since there’s a dizzying array of personal conditions that don’t quite fit what can be done on a website and have to be handled in person, or people who simply refuse to learn to use technology. That said, it seems to be doing a lot of business, both in the state and in the federal exchanges.
Here’s the figures for New York at the close of the first enrollment period: 447,990 applications completed, 214, 077 enrolled. That’s a pretty significant figure. The enrollment figures will increase over the next week or two, but it shows the remarkable amount of interest in having insurance. The reports from around the country show a similar jump. As time goes on, and many of the dire predictions of doom that the Republicans have been making don’t happen, it’ll grow even more. That’s not to say that the media hasn’t been busily trying to find some tarnish on the silver linings, they have. Yes, there are problems, yes, they need to be fixed, but overall it’s turning out to be a success. People are finding out that not only can they get insured, but they often are saving a lot of money by enrolling through the exchanges.
As these success stories keep coming out, as the glitches are fixed and the problems become distant memories, it will become something the Republicans consider their worst nightmare.
By the end of March, as many as 8 million to 10 million people may have insurance coverage thanks to Obamacare, so any Republican suggestions of repealing or replacing the health care reform would be a threat to those newly covered voters. “We have to recognize that reality,” Johnson told the Times. “We have to deal with the people that are currently covered under Obamacare.”
In short, they staked their party’s future success on an all or nothing attempt to stop it before it rolled out. Once it had, they’re now in the situation of coming up with alternatives, and the biggest problem? They don’t have them.
“If the question is ‘What is your plan to replace Obamacare with a bill that maximizes coverage?’ we will fail. Period,” said the aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “If the question is re-framed as ‘What concrete steps can you take to lower cost and increase access?’ we can play. By definition we have no credibility on the former.”
They don’t have much in the way of credibility on the latter, either. Most of their proposed “concrete steps” are things that have already been shown to be complete failures or would not pass the “will it work” test, according to most analysts. Their big problem is that they’re not used to criticizing, they’re used to attacking, where they can skip any bothersome details of exactly which aspect they’d fix and how.
What’s interesting is that what has been touted as “a failure,” and President Obama’s “worst debacle” by various of the right, news media, and frustrati is actually becoming a success. It’s doing a lot of business for a failure. Then again, those of us who were paying attention kept saying that. It does not mean that improvements couldn’t be made, both in the exchanges, and in getting more states to start offering the other aspects. To do that though, we shouldn’t count on Republicans. We need to elect more Democrats, to take over the House, keep the Senate, and state houses. The “anchor” that Republicans hoped this would be for Democrats may instead be the anchor that drags them down as more and more people realize that.