There’s a reason Republicans have been rushing to try and defund the Affordable Care Act before October 1, when major sections of the law take effect.
Once state health insurance exchanges take effect, and premiums for all Americans go down, Republicans know the law will only become more popular and harder to repeal.
As Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It's a lot harder to undo something than it is to stop it in the first place.”
Because just like Republicans railed against Social Security and Medicaid and Medicare when they were first proposed, those programs are now highly effective and broadly popular parts of our social safety net — supported even by strong majorities of Republican voters.
So, for those of you who have been too busy criticizing ObamaCare for partisan reasons to actually look at what’s in the law — and see what Americans like about it — here is a handy-dandy review:
1. ACA allows young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance plans
Because of ObamaCare, which allows kids to stay on their parents insurance plans until age 26, 3.4 million young Americans now have coverage.
The percentage of uninsured young people (ages 19 to 25) fell accordingly, from 48% in 2010 to 21% in 2012.
According to polling, three-in-four Americans support this part of the Affordable Care Act including, yes, over two-thirds of Republicans.
2. ACA bans insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions
Another aspect of ObamaCare that has already taken effect is the ban on insurance companies denying coverage to patients based on pre-existing conditions.
That means an end to insurance company horror stories like four-month-old Alex Lange being denied health insurance because he was too chubby.
This is why the conservative allegation about death panels is so ironic; while the actual ACA law does not contain death panels or anything remotely like them, the fact is that prior to ObamaCare, insurance companies were effectively operating like death panels in denying life-saving coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition and by applying life-time spending caps on coverage.
The ban on pre-existing condition limits, which will apply to every single American by 2014, is supported by 83% of Americans.
3. ACA offers tax credits to small businesses to buy insurance
The Affordable Care Act expands tax credits to help small businesses provide health insurance to their workers. Companies with fewer than 50 employees do not have to provide insurance, but even for these businesses, ObamaCare will make it easier and cheaper if they choose to do so.
According to polling, 88% of Americans think these small business tax credits are great, including — wait for it ... yes, 83% of Republicans. That’s right, over eight-in-ten Republicans support the provision of ObamaCare that helps small businesses afford and expand their health insurance offerings to employees.
4. ACA requires companies with more than 50 employees to provide health insurance
Over 96% of companies with more than 50 employees already provide health insurance to their employees. And contrary to Republicans claiming otherwise, studies show the vast majority of those employers do not plan to drop or reduce that coverage because of ObamaCare.
Also, there is no evidence that ObamaCare has led to companies slashing full-time workers. In fact, since ObamaCare passed in March 2010, over 90% of the gain in employment has been full-time positions.
Still, we know that companies that can afford to provide health insurance to their workers and yet fail to do so off-set the costs of care onto the rest of us — whether the cost of emergency room treatment that gets passed on to other consumers, or Medicaid coverage that we pay for as taxpayers.
In Florida alone, more than 50,000 workers at companies like McDonald’s and Burger King are on the state’s Medicaid rolls. Especially with tax credits available to small businesses, there is no excuse for companies to pass the buck. And 75% of Americans support this element of ObamaCare.
5. ACA provides subsidies to help individuals afford coverage
Many of the 45 million Americans who lack health insurance simply don’t have enough money to afford coverage. ObamaCare will lower the cost of premiums but also provide subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans purchase insurance.
Americans who earn $45,000 per year (about 400% of the federal poverty level) will qualify for some form of subsidy. The amount of the subsidy will be based on income as well as the cost of health coverage in a particular state but, for instance, according to a subsidy calculator created by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a 27-year-old living in Houston, Texas, who earns just $15,000 a year could sign-up for a mid-level plan for about $300 per year with the help of subsidies. Without subsidies, that plan would cost $2,400 per year.
The few Americans who think subsidizing care is a bad idea should, again, note that we already subsidize health care to a far greater degree in the form of Medicaid and also when the uninsured rely on free emergency room care and pass those astronomical costs on to the rest of us. But most Americans — 76% to be exact — support the individual subsidy. That includes 61% of Republicans.
There’s even more aspects of ObamaCare that the American people already support — including the employer mandate, the increased Medicare payroll tax on higher-income Americans and the expansion of Medicaid.
And then, starting October 1, here’s one more:
6. State-based health insurance exchanges
Americans of all political stripes like choice and competition, which is precisely what the ObamaCare health insurance exchanges will create. So it’s no wonder that 80% of Americans — including 72% of Republicans — support the health insurance exchange program in ObamaCare. And that’s even before the exchanges have taken effect!
Plus, a new report shows that health insurance premiums will be even lower under ObamaCare than originally projected.
Personally, as someone who pays through the nose for individual insurance in New York State — a state where, historically, few individual insurance options have even been available — I can’t wait to enroll in ObamaCare and see my premiums plummet, as they are expected to by at least 50%.
Again, all this is why Republicans are in such a desperate rush to try and defund ObamaCare before October 1 — even if it means holding our economy hostage and even if most voters, including Republicans, oppose the repeated and wasteful defunding attempts.
After all, the law is already popular when it’s not fully in effect and most people haven’t felt its benefits. We all know what will happen when ObamaCare takes effect — and works!
Republicans who are throwing temper tantrums over sour grapes need to grow up.
Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, President Obama signed it into law and the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.
The cost of doing nothing on health care reform was too great and the cost of repeatedly refighting the political battles of the past is obscene. But then again, it makes perfect sense why Republicans refuse to just give up and shut up — because the minute they do, there will be no more distractions from all the good things about ObamaCare.