Back on Aug. 5, 2013, always-wrong pundit Bill Kristol was sure that the Affordable Care Act would fail. “If the exchanges are permitted to go into effect on January 1, 2014, there will be error, fraud, inefficiency, arbitrariness, and privacy violations aplenty,” he wrote in The Weekly Standard.
Aside from the fact that he didn’t even know the date the exchanges would go live, Kristol’s prediction of a “train wreck” turned out to be about as correct as the prediction by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) that “ObamaCare is doomed for failure on its own.”
There was Bill O’Reilly, predicting that “President Obama will not recover from the healthcare debacle and [...] it will weigh Hillary Clinton down as well,” which was as wrong as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) claiming, “Today, there can be no dispute that Obamacare is a disaster. ... It’s common sense to recognize that Obamacare isn’t working.” Or how about The Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost, who was so certain of the law’s “downward spiral” that he wrote, “It is clear by now that the administration will not reach the original CBO estimate of 7 million enrollees by the deadline at the end of March.”
So many savvy pundits and pols. So wrong.
The reality is that Republicans spent years obstructing at the federal level, refusing to allow even minor technical fixes that would improve the efficacy of the law. Conservatives waged myriad legal challenges, including one seminal Supreme Court decision. GOP governors stood in the way of the law’s expansion in some of the biggest states, including Texas and Florida. And the Koch brothers and their billionaire allies spent tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars undercutting the legitimacy of the law.
Despite that all-out effort by the entire might of the conservative movement, the law not only endured, it actually surpassed the original target of 7 million enrollees. With people still completing applications, the total number of qualified health plans through the exchanges is 7.4 million and counting, and will likely exceed projections by more than 10 percent. And that doesn’t include qualified health plans purchased off the exchanges. Blue Cross Blue Shield alone has sold 1.7 million such policies.
Medicaid/CHIP expansion has delivered health insurance to another 5-7 million people, while up to 3 million young adults have retained coverage under their parents’ insurance, thanks to the law. All told, at least 13.5 million people (and likely far more) now have affordable and comprehensive coverage, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, about 93 percent of people are paying for their policies, dashing the latest conservative efforts to delegitimize the stunning first-year success of the law.
And therein lies the GOP’s conundrum heading into 2014: How will Republicans undermine a law that will benefit tens of millions, when the only health insurance plan devised by conservatives in the past two decades, originally proposed by the Heritage Foundation, is essentially the Affordable Care Act?
Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.