Rising Obamacare Enrollment Can’t be Stopped

Health Care Ideas and Issues

aca_chartNew Orleans   The massive battleground that the Republicans have made of implementation of the Affordable Care Act has no strategy to deal with a ticking time bomb that could blow up in their faces, and that’s the problem of math – people are voting for the program with their feet in increasing numbers through their enrollment.  The Republicans have to worry where the tipping point will be and whether or not they will have enough time to get on the right side of the scale before the weight collapses on them.   Clearly some politicians have already come to that conclusion, but the recent enrollment estimates hasten their days of decision.

Current estimates are that 6 million Americans will enroll in Obamacare by the March 31st or whenever the spring deadline hits, since I would still bet there will be a small extension in the final days of the period.  Additionally, expanded Medicaid is estimated to capture 8 million additional Americans.  Admittedly, this 14 million is not the 16 million the Administration had originally projected, 7 in Obamacare and 9 in Medicaid, but 14 million is still a heckuva lot of people – and voters.    The falloff from expectations of course lies with the botched website rollout.  Nonetheless, the ball is now rolling, and experts also predict that Obamacare will rise to 25 million Americans enrolled when the calendar hits 2017.

Certainly, there will still be plenty of sound and fury from conservatives on the short term run-up to the mid-term elections for Congress, but the calendar and the increasing enrollments are unforgiving, if they rise as expected going into the 2016 Presidential election, which has to concern Republican strategists.  If nearly 25 million have enrolled by the time voters go to the polls in 2016, that is a huge block that is likely to start remembering who said and did what to Obamacare and to vote with those who are likely to protect their benefits, not those who are still part of the monkey wrench gang.  Look to Social Security for a model of political behavior on sacred cow entitlements.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report indicating that the equivalent of 250,000 workers per year might be impacted by lost hours and conversions to part-time status as the employer mandates take hold in 2015 and forward.  The Republicans and the headlines jumped on the 10 year total of an equivalent of 2.5 million jobs affected, but it is unclear if the tradeoff in hours was compared to the trade-up in the same worker equivalents suddenly being covered by health insurance, and how that balanced out economically.  Once the fur stops flying, it will be easier to tell whether this will nudge the scale at all even on the short term.

For a change the Administration could get lucky.  If job growth and wage hikes pick up with the improving economy, losing some hours will be lost in the wash.  There are now 131.1 million jobs in the USA.  250000 jobs is .0019 percent of total employment where hours are being lost on this exchange or less than 2 thousands of a percent.  I’m not saying it’s good news for any worker, but I am saying that this is not a voting block and likely to be soon lost in the pile of new enrollments in Obamacare and new jobs and hours in the growing economy.