Republicans were hoping that some great Obamacare news would slip out on a Friday afternoon and go completely unnoticed by the media.
They thought wrong.
This afternoon the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation released a report projecting premium increases for the 2015 year under the Affordable Care Act. After years of double-digit increases, next year’s premiums will not only drop into single digits, but there will be an average decrease of premiums by roughly 0.8 percent. Overall the trends are clear: a few small states will show rate increases but large states, and more specifically large cities, are will show fairly small changes. Since the small states tend to show higher variation, they also don’t affect the overall average very much so when all is said and done there’s a very realistic chance the overall premium levels will be close to zero.
As Mother Jones puts it, this result is “genuinely stunning.”
The result should be especially stunning for our Republican friends who have insisted for five years that Obamacare would be unable to support itself in the long run. They deemed it a “death spiral” and insisted the program would be crushed under its own weight. For five years, they’ve insisted that the program would be unsustainable in the long run, with a major reason being the fact that premiums would increase to levels that would be unaffordable for the average American. In fact, as recently as May of this year, The Hill released a report stating that double-digit premium hikes were set to emerge for 2015.
Yet, despite these Chicken Little predictions, Obamacare has once again proven to be an unqualified success.
The reason for this is that Obamacare is doing exactly what it was intended to do. Despite the repeated doomsday predictions Republicans have given us for the past five years, the law is not only not failing, but it’s achieving a remarkable string of successes that even proponents of the law did not see coming. In fact, it’s doing so well that’s it has now entered what economist Paul Krugman has called a “life spiral.” Krugman explains that good news continues to breed more and more good news because “the huge surge in enrollments late in the day meant that the risk pool this year is better than insurers expected, and they now expect 2015 to be better still. Also, importantly, big enrollments mean that more insurers are entering the market, increasing competition. And, of course, the better the deal, the more people will sign up: success feeds success.”
In other words, the exact opposite of what Republicans predicted would happen.
Perhaps Ezra Klein said it best today, when he wrote:
Imagine taking a time machine back to 2010 and telling Republicans in Congress, who were arguing that the CBO was wildly underestimating Obamacare’s cost, that the law would be cheaper than predicted and, at least in the states that accepted its Medicaid dollars, cover more people than the Congressional Budget Office thought. After the laughing and mocking and the calling of security, let’s say you offered this prediction in the form of a bet. What odds do you think Obamacare’s critics would have offered? 2:1? 5:1? 10:1?
As both Klein and Krugman point out, our Republican friends were dead wrong about the law. Notice how little we have heard about the ACA the closer and closer we get to the mid-term elections. Republicans bet the farm on opposing Obamacare and history will show that the entire party opposed a law that was the most significant piece of social legislation in a generation. As more and more good news about the law continues to emerge, Republicans will do their best to pretend like they never opposed the law in the first place. In fact, now Republican governors like Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett are expanding Medicaid, and there are a handful of other states whose Republican governors are also considering doing the same. Governors like Rick Scott and Scott Walker, who openly denied their citizens Medicaid, are now facing the fight for their political lives.
Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to use Obamacare’s successes for the upcoming midterm elections. As the good news continues to pour in, Democrats should hammer their opponents, and especially sitting members of Congress, for continually using fear and propaganda to deny their constituents health care. For Democrats to win big in November, they need to continue to advocate for the people that the Affordable Care Act has helped the most: The working class. If Democrats can successfully appeal to this group and can honestly and openly say how Republicans continue to deny their fellow citizens health care out of political spite, then they should be able to successfully get people to the polls who are fed up with being consistently lied to and manipulated by the Republican Party.
If Democrats can do that, they will have made a compelling case for a blue House and Senate this fall.