“This Thing Is Working”

The evidence continues to pile up that the Affordable Care Act is working, and conservatives on the defensive.

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A Slew Of Good Health Care News Has Conservatives On Their Heels

The evidence continues to pile up that the Affordable Care Act is doing exactly what progressives said it would: providing the peace of mind of high-quality and affordable health coverage to millions of Americans. Despite the initial bumps, the law is actually exceeding expectations when it comes to enrollment. What’s more, Americans are sick of Republicans who have voted over 50 times to repeal the law without even offering an alternative — the law is working better than expected and it is here to stay.

19 Million Americans Covered

With President Obama’s final announcement of enrollment numbers on Thursday, the tally for the total number of Americans getting coverage (so far!) thanks to the Affordable Care Act is in:

  • 8 million people have signed up for health coverage through the state and federal marketplaces.
  • 3 million more have signed up for coverage through Medicaid.
  • 3 million now have coverage by staying on their parents’ plan.
  • 5 million people have signed up for ACA-compliant plans outside the marketplace.

Altogether, a new Gallup survey reveals that 4 percent of all Americans are newly ensured this year.

Exchanges Working And Costs Down

Opponents of the law claimed that insufficient numbers of young and healthy people would enroll in the exchanges, causing premiums to skyrocket next year. These fears also aren’t panning out; in fact, just the opposite is happening.

For one, young people are signing up for health coverage under the law in droves. The White House reported that 28% of enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 35. That’s the same percentage as in Massachusetts, which has run a successful healthcare marketplace since 2007. Gallup echoes this point, writing that “the newly insured are, on average, much younger than the overall population.”

Additionally, worries about dramatic cost increases have also proven to be overblown. New Congressional Budget Office projections for 2016 insurance premiums are 15 percent lower than previous estimates, a reduction that they estimate to save $186 billion (not to say we called it, but…we called it).

The mix of massive enrollment and a young, healthy enrollment pool has insurers who “got their first taste of Obamacare this year [wanting] seconds,” according to Politico. In at least ten states, insurers that didn’t offer coverage through the exchanges this year have said they plan to in 2015. This creates more options for consumers, and signals the strength of the ACA marketplaces.

Conservatives On Defense

As millions of people experience real, and not just theoretical, benefits of the law, Americans are getting more and more tired of the political battles to repeal it. A recent Kaiser survey found that 59 percent of Americans want keep the law in place or improve it, while only 29 percent want get rid of it. Pew reports that even a “majority of ACA opponents – representing 30% of the public overall – want politicians to do what they can to make the law work as well as possible, compared with 19% of the public that wants elected officials to do what they can to make it fail.”

And constituents are showing their frustration with their conservative elected officials’ fixation on repeal. Without any alternative to point to, and an increasingly frustrated public, these politicians have nobody to blame but themselves.

Think Progress videotaped on one such interaction at a town hall for GOP Rep. Dennis Ross (FL):

Constituent: Why do you think it is so good to deny seniors on Part D to make them pay more, about $4,000 more for medicine, and people with pre-existing conditions get denied insurance, have 26-year-olds have a harder time getting insurance because they can’t get on their parents’? Why do you think those are good ideas?

ROSS: I don’t. I think one of the most unfortunate things my party did the last three years was not offer an alternative to health care.

Ross isn’t the only Republican to face criticism recently. Paul Ryan, Scott Brown, and Chris Christie have also had constituents tell them to end their focus on repeal. Meanwhile, states that have refused to expand health care to low-income residents are also starting to face the music: the uninsured rate is dropping three times faster in states that have expanded Medicaid compared to those that have not.

BOTTOM LINE: We think just a look at a few of this week’s health-care related headlines provides the best summary: the ACA is working.

New York Times: Enrollments Exceed Obama’s Target for Health Care Act

New Republic: Obamacare Signups Hit 8 Million And both Young And Old Are On Board

National Journal: Obamacare Is On A Winning Streak

Politico: Insurers see brighter Obamacare skies

Washington Post: States embracing Obamacare are doing a better job of covering the uninsured, surveys show

Gallup: Uninsured Rate Drops More in States Embracing Health Law

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Advocacy Team