Paul Krugman on the 8 million Obamacare signups:
How did enrollment manage to surge so impressively despite the initial debacle of healthcare.gov? Obviously they fixed the website; but the broader issue, as Sarah Kliff rightly points out, is that being uninsured is truly terrible. Uninsured Americans really, really wanted coverage, and they weren’t ready to give up.
Kliff doesn’t make this point too explicitly, but this diagnosis has another crucial implication: the benefits of Obamacare, for all its imperfections, are immense. Millions of people who lived extremely anxious lives now have far more security than before. Compared with those benefits, the complaints of some already insured people that they have less choice of doctors than before, or that they’re no longer allowed to retain minimalist plans, look like whining. (And of course not one of the more serious-sounding stories about soaring premiums and all that has held up under scrutiny.)
And speaking of whining, the GOP response seems to be to make every possible insinuation to the effect that the numbers are somehow fraudulent. I actually don’t think there’s a game plan here; their whole position was premised on the inevitable collapse of health reform, and they have no plan B.
The Republican position on Obamacare is this:
- The law is failing and that the numbers and the good news are all lies that will be exposed when the law falls apart before the elections.
- Best case for the GOP, millions have lost their insurance and all of them have seen their plans replaced with far more expensive Obamacare plans that they can't afford. Worst case is only diehard Democratic voters have benefited from the law.
- The insurance companies will soon have no choice but to pass massive premium increases along to all their customers right before the November elections.
- This will create a critical mass of people who will demand repeal and usher in a new near-permanent era of GOP control as Obama limps out of office in 2016 or is somehow forced to resign.
- Republicans take total control of the country at the federal and state level in 2016, reducing the Democrats to a regional New England/West Coast party, and remake America.
By "Republican position" I of course mean "magical thinking-powered delusion." What people will demand is that the GOP get out of the way and allow improvements to the law. The insurance giants, medical device industry, big pharma, hospital chains, and doctors' groups will lobby hard for this, as will business groups and the tech industry (benefiting from electronic medical records.) The law will be expanded and improved upon.
You'll see Republicans jump on board, or be replaced by Republicans who will.