Here’s a holiday gift to cherish: Despite all of Trump’s repeated attempts to wreck Obamacare, nearly nine million people have signed up during the current federal enrollment period — virtually the same number who signed up prior to the Trump occupation.
Yes, folks, another shaft of sunlight has pierced our dystopia. The Obamacare stats are a bracing reminder that an historically unpopular president and a manifestly unpopular party cannot simply compel Americans to behave like sheep. Obamacare is far more popular now than when it was first enacted, not merely because more people have realized its upside, but because they resent the GOP’s sabotage. (Gallup says only 29 percent of Americans support repeal.) Most importantly, the new enrollment stats are a stinging rebuke to the saboteur-in-chief.
Roughly 8.8 million people — 96 percent of last year’s federal enrollment — have signed up through the federal website used by 39 states, and that doesn’t include the 2.5 million who’ve enrolled on the state-run exchanges, some of which will stay open for a few more weeks. The robust federal turnout — which included a surge of one million new customers in the final week; which a health expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation calls “truly remarkable” — has taken place…
Despite Trump’s incessant fake pronunciamentos that Obamacare is “dead” and “finished” and “gone” and “essentially repealed.”
Despite the Trump regime’s decision to cut the money for enrollment outreach and advertising by 90 percent.
Despite the Trump regime’s decision to cut the money for in-person enrollment aides by 40 percent.
Despite the Trump regime’s decision to narrow the enrollment window from three months to six weeks.
Despite Trump’s decision to halt the federal subsidies that have helped insurers cover low-income customers.
Despite the congressional GOP’s repeated ’17 efforts to kill off Obamacare entirely.
What a bummer for the Trump team. And his health officials were not eager to publicize the enrollment stats. They reportedly “withheld the total for more than 24 hours past their usual release day,” and finally broke the news in a single tweet. Although I suppose we should at least be grateful that they didn’t suppress the news by concocting alternative facts.
Clearly, none of their sabotage attempts have destroyed consumer confidence in Obamacare. If anything, they’ve strengthened support for a health care safety net. According to Gallup, 56 percent of Americans now believe that “the federal government should be responsible for making sure all Americans have health care coverage,” the highest level recorded by Gallup since the waning days of the George W. Bush administration.
Actually, we shouldn’t be surprised by the new enrollment numbers — given what happened in the elections last month. There was a measurable backlash against Trump’s sabotage. In the Virginia gubernatorial exit polls, 4 in 10 voters said health care was the most important issue. No other issue came close. And of those who chose health care, 77 percent cast their ballots for Democrat Ralph Northam, who eviscerated the Trump-endorsed Republican.
The results in a Maine referendum were even more striking. Despite being led by an Obamacare-hating Republican governor, Maine’s voters — by a whopping 59 to 41 percent — agreed to expand Obamacare coverage to an additional 80,000 low-income residents, using federal money from the Medicaid program. Maine thus became the first state to approve Medicaid expansion via a ballot measure, and health activists are hoping to do the same in states redder than Maine.
Granted, the Trump-GOP sabotage efforts will continue anyway — using the tax bill to kill the Obamacare sign-up mandate will likely do some damage down the road — and they’ll do their best to throw millions of people off their coverage. But the good news, as already evidenced by Virginia, Maine, and the new enrollment numbers, is that the resistance impulse is strong, that sanity and democracy are by no means dead.
As Al Franken said yesterday in his farewell Senate speech, after listing the litany of lies about Obamacare and so much else: “At the end of the day, it is going to be up to the American people, just like it always has been.” And if Americans defy the lies and the sabotage, “I know we will get this country back on track.”
Bingo! A hopeful holiday message.