New Orleans More than one-million people enrolled under the Affordable Care Act during January bringing the numbers up to 3.3 million in so far with two months to go. Despite the disastrous start last fall, the numbers are now averaging 75% of original predictions.
In the heavily contested states like Texas and Louisiana, where governors have declared Obamacare their personal Alamo, the numbers are still sagging more somewhat, but are significant. Louisiana is 56% of expectation with 40000 enrolled in either Medicaid or private plans now. Texas is at 53% with 87,000 in both programs thus far. Arkansas where the private option is now under attack is at 69% of expectation with 70,000 enrolled. With at least two more months to go, there’s only one way these numbers are going to keep going, and that’s up, which is exciting but must be disconcerting to the Republicans who are staking their future on their hardcore base’s Obama hate.
The haters keep getting tripped up and thrown off message though. Obama faced the music and gave smaller and medium sized businesses in the range of 50 to 100 workers an extension in compliance. The Wall Street Journal claimed Obama was exempting for another year 27% of the American workforce and started beating the drums until they buried a correction the next day admitting that the extension affected only 7.9 million workers or 7% of the American workforce. Yeah, 27% versus 7%, that’s an honest mistake, huh?
This is still a state by state fight. The private option is in the balance in Arkansas, but has been adopted in Iowa and is being sought in other states. New Hampshire recently became the latest state to expand Medicaid coverage, and more will follow inevitably. As millions march towards better health, it will be harder and harder for some states to pass up the virtually free cost for saving their citizens’ lives.
At the same time it is still a bitter pill to swallow that private insurance companies who will make billions on the healthcare expansion still have way too much arbitrary say on the cost and coverage of people. Three of the four insurance carriers in the marketplace in Louisiana for example announced suddenly that they would not accept 3rd party payments from federal sources like the Ryan White funds to cover HIV/AIDS patients, throwing 2000 Louisianans into a “one choice fits all” situation with the same companies also moving to deny coverage in other states. Companies providing subpar, unqualified plans are also being allowed continued leeway in the same direction with a mishmash of responses from regulators in various states sometimes looking the other way and sometimes blocking the door, as they should be doing.
There are problems with the Affordable Care Act, a barrel of them, but as long as the haters are running wild on the public policy battlefield, there’s no chance of fixing even the pieces that are broken and demand attention.
Meanwhile Americans are marching forward into the arms of Obamacare in sure and steady numbers. People better hear the sound of them coming and soon realize that this is a movement that won’t be stopped.