Unrelenting recent string of new polls, sign-ups numbers underscore law's effectiveness at achieving what it set out to...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2014, 3:16pm PT  

I discussed some of these points on Wednesday's BradCast, but wanted to quickly highlight each of them a bit here, since these important data points are easy to lose track of in the blizzard of news noise of late.

There remain some (many?) Democrats who are still running scared as they head into the 2014 mid-terms, cowering with fear about Rightwing attacks on "Obamacare". Evidence continues to demonstrate that those Dems should be running on what is clearly the tremendous success of the law, as written and intended (even as the Affordable Care Act itself has always been a flawed law.)

If there's any question about the success of the law on its most basic terms, as far as what it was meant to accomplish (help more Americans have access to health care), here is a very quick round-up of the law's most noteworthy milestones from just the past week, along with some rather remarkable polling numbers --- from three different surveys --- that buttress the nation's increasing approval for both the effects of the law and the Democrats who brung it to 'em...

As TPM's Sahil Kapur summarized yesterday, after the President's press conference announcing that 8 million had, to date, signed up for insurance plans via the state or federal exchanges, there are another 3 million young adults who are now allowed to stay on their parents plans; another 3 million Americans who now have access to health care via the Medicaid expansions of ACA and another 5 million who have signed up for non-exchange plans, according to the White House.

That's 19 million who have obtained health care via the program to date. About 10 million or "way more" of them, according to several recent studies, did not have health insurance previously.

Another 5.7 million remain eligible for Medicaid coverage, but aren't allowed to receive that health care because they live in states where Republicans have, grotesquely, denied those citizens, among the poorest in those states, access to the expanded program.

Moreover, a new report this week from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "shows the law costing less than in previous estimates in part because of the broad and persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs," according to the New York Times. The new estimate finds that the law will lower the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next decade.

The reduced estimate is attributable mostly to the budget office’s cutting its projections of federal spending for subsidies for insurance premiums, with estimates falling by $3 billion for spending in 2014 and $164 billion over 10 years.

The budget office also issued projections that 12 million more nonelderly people would have insurance in 2014 than would have otherwise, rising to 26 million in 2017.

So those are fairly clear successes for the law, at least in regard to its main purpose: to help more people who could not receive it previously --- for all sorts of reasons --- obtain health care.

But it's the changing attitude about the law, according to a rather remarkable and unrelenting string of polls over the last week or so, that leaves one scratching their head as to how it can be that Democrats seem not yet to have taken notice. Specifically, three different polls highlight three fairly notable changes in demographic understanding and appreciation of the law, as well as for those who, all by themselves, passed it in 2010...

Republican voters beginning to realize they were hoodwinked by the GOP: A poll last week from Gallup finds a pretty remarkable spike in Republican voters who now understand the law will have little or no affect on them. The number of self-identified GOPers who think the law will have no affect on them has jumped 20 points from just last month. It seems like that number will continue to grow, given the number of years that Republican officials and "advocates" have declared the law was "a complete government take over of health care" that would "end health care as we know it in this country". Turns out that now that the law is actually taking affect and Americans are no worse off for it (and, in many cases, better off thanks to things like free preventative care and birth control, etc.) that Republican voters may be understanding that they were lied to.

Americans increasingly prefer Democrats on healthcare issues: A Reuters/Ipsos poll from earlier this week finds that nearly one-third of respondents "said they prefer Democrats' plan, policy or approach to healthcare, compared to just 18 percent for Republicans. This marks both an uptick in support for Democrats and a slide for Republicans since a similar poll in February." The numbers preferring Democrats on health care over Republicans has been steadily rising since February when "just around one-quarter of respondents said Democrats had a better plan."

Uninsured levels dropping faster in states that support 'Obamacare': Another Gallup survey from mid-week finds that states that expanded Medicaid under ACA and actively participated in the insurance marketplace exchanges saw the rate of uninsured drop 2.5% in the first quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, states that refused to expand Medicaid or participate in the exchanges saw their rate of uninsured drop just .8%.

To be clear, there are still large swaths of Americans who --- largely thanks to horrible media coverage and hundreds of millions spent on anti-'Obamacare' propaganda by Rightwing Republicanists --- do not support the ACA, even if the vast majority of Americans either support it or wish to see it strengthened. But there is little doubt those numbers would be much higher if shell-shocked Democrats, themselves, weren't either running away from the law, or afraid to bring it up, and sing its praises, in polite company.

There also remain legitimate reasons for some Democrats and/or those on the actual Left, to oppose the general structure of the Republican-created, market-based law and continue the call for improvements to it --- such as a Medicare-for-all type single-payer system or, at least, a public option as an alternative to private insurance in each state. (One such self-identified Lefty called in to The BradCast on Wednesday to complain about my advocacy on all of these points, and he and I have been following up in comments since then.)

But with numbers like these, taken collectively --- from the wildly successful sign-up numbers that exceed almost all projections, to decreases in expected costs for the program and for health care itself (and the sizable decrease in the nation's deficit that comes with it), to the steady and persistent increase in polling support for the law and the Democrats who passed it --- it's almost mystifying that Democrats aren't showing up with huge "YOU'RE WELCOME FOR 'OBAMACARE', AMERICA!" banners at every townhall or campaign event.

But they're Democrats. Neither political courage nor forward thinking has been their hallmark for some time.

Share article...