In case you missed it, yesterday afternoon Barack Obama was strutting around the Rose Garden like a rooster, taking a victory lap on Obamacare. According to him, the magical goal of 7.1 million enrollments had been met after a last-minute surge of online applications. It was, appropriately enough, April Fool’s Day.
Ben Domenech at The Federalist:
Have you heard? Obamacare survived! It got to that magic number it was looking for to make everything right!
Or rather, it got to half the number the Congressional Budget Office predicted it would get to after the Supreme Court ruling.
Either way, it’s totally okay now and is absolutely going to survive and be the law of the land forever and ever despite anything those nasty opponents of the law tell you.
All the 7 million number the White House will be touting for months to come really achieves is an end to the “website is broken” storyline which began unexpectedly last fall. Opponents of the law, who had expected all the other disruptions that Obamacare spawned (the substance story of people losing their plans, losing access to their doctors, the broad disruption to employers and employees), were given an additional process story in the broken exchange and bungled launch and collapsing state exchanges. That latter storyline overwhelmed people in both parties – it was such a public faceplant that it made things seem even worse. But it was also a story that was destined to end eventually – indeed, it’s surprising it lasted for a full six months! – and it has largely ended due to all the exemptions, waivers, loopholes, and extensions the Obama Administration has slapped all over this launch process, like using bumper stickers to hold a jalopy together.
This is why talk of the 7 million figure as salvation from supporters of the law is completely bonkers: all you did was meet your lowered policy expectations. In 2014, it is clear that Republicans intend to run against Obamacare: it is a hot button issue for their base, it is perfectly designed to turn their voters out in a base election, and they don’t even need to coalesce around a specific legislative alternative in order to get those votes (rather, they can continue to let a dozen different options sprout here and there). If the odds play out as they currently appear, this positioning will allow them to take the U.S. Senate.
Even if the Obama administration is telling the truth (doubtful) about the number of enrollments, Obamacare itself is still a clusterfuck. I wonder how many of those alleged 7.1 million people who supposedly enrolled in Obamacare have paid even one premium? How many will still be enrolled six months from now? How many of them are pleased with Obamacare and how many only signed up because it’s the law??
How many of those 7.1 million were part of the 6 million who had their old health insurance plans canceled? There were supposed to be 40 million people who had no health insurance. Even if all the 7.1 million who supposedly signed up for Obamacare were previously uninsured, there is still a long way to go.
And that is just enrollments. What about the increased costs and deductibles? What about the effect on doctors and hospitals? What about the effects of the now-delayed employer mandate?
This trainwreck is a long way from over, and there are still more trains barreling down the track.