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7 Million Cheers for ‘Obamacare’


more than 7 millionPublic Health, Too, Is ‘National Security’

Congratulation to President Obama, the White House, and the courageous Democrats in Congress who voted for the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the most ambitious expansion of health care for Americans since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

After the March 31 deadline for enrollments, President Obama announced that the goal of 7 million by April 1 has been met—and more: some 7.1 million previously uninsured Americans have signed up for coverage. And the numbers will rise because those who were not able to finish signing up by midnight Monday will have another two weeks to complete their registration. (Go to Healthcare.gov to learn more.)

So, congratulations to the elected officials and policy makers, and “best of health” to the American people—those who are now covered, and especially to those who do not yet have health insurance.

Let’s look briefly at some numbers. According to The New Yorker:

Three million young people remain on their parents’ health-care plans; more than eight million uninsured people are eligible for Medicaid; and, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than a hundred million people have received preventive-care services, like mammograms and flu shots, at no cost.

ObamacareWhat Does Obamacare Do for You?

Per “The Affordable Care Act by the Numbers” at WhiteHouse.gov (2012):

Click here for more benefits.

The present system of Medicare and Medicaid was signed into law in 1965 by Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson. As Jeffrey Toobin explains in The New Yorker:

Medicare, providing health insurance for all Americans over the age of sixty-five, proved popular almost immediately: after the rollout, about nineteen million people signed up, more than ninety per cent of those eligible. Medicaid, covering the poor of all ages, is financed jointly by the federal government and the states. The first year, only twenty-six states agreed to participate, and the program didn’t include all fifty until 1982, when Arizona, the final holdout, joined.

Conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been principally directed at the Medicaid aspects that are mainly tailored to the very poor: “Ideas such as the requirement that everyone obtain insurance, with subsidies for people who can’t afford it; the mandate that insurance companies offer coverage to all comers; and the incentives for states to expand the number of people covered by Medicaid have meant political war,” as Toobin explains.

Steven Benen at The Maddow Blog points out that “the single biggest hindrance to expanding coverage to the uninsured is Republican governors in red states blocking Medicaid expansion. That’s not conjecture; it’s what the CBO has already documented.” Benen wrote last August:

The Affordable Care Act originally made Medicaid expansion mandatory for states, guaranteeing coverage for millions, but a narrow Supreme Court majority ruled that it must be optional – if states want to take advantage of an amazing deal they could, but if they choose to turn down the federal money, Washington can’t force them to accept it. 


Affordable Care Act Uninsured


What Do Opponents Propose? Bobbycare?

C-SPAN:AP_ACA voteWhenever you hear criticisms of ‘Obamacare’—to be sure, the website’s rollout last October was embarrassingly inept—remember that the Republicans and other conservatives have fought single-mindedly (as usual) to prevent it from passing, and then to denounce it ever since its narrow passage. (See Rachel Maddow’s montage of pundits repeating the phrase “death spiral”; wishing hasn’t made it so.) As shown in the image at right, not a single House Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act, and all Republican senators, too, voted against it. The House Republicans have voted to repeal it more than 50 times. (They’ve had time for these fruitless, symbolic exercises because they do little else.) If Obamacare falls short, they have worked tirelessly to make it fail. If the enrollment center is short-staffed or the web site is faulty, could it be at least in part because the Republicans have been determined to make the initiative fail?

And what, exactly, have these purported representatives of the American public done to propose alternatives that will keep their constituents—the human beings, not the corporations—in good health? Hello? One plan, offered by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (and nicknamed “Bobbycare”), would result in some 10 million people losing their coverage and would likely cause many businesses to stop offering coverage for their employees.

See LNW’s “Republicans Against Medicare: A Long, Mean History” (10/15/12).


Working on Organizing for America phone banks in the summer of 2010, we helped with the effort to push members of Congress to include a public option in the legislation that was slowly, so slowly, making its way through the sausage factory. Like millions of Americans, we were dismayed at the legislation that was finally, excruciatingly enacted by Congress in March 2010, but we remain supporters of any efforts by public officials to work toward greater public health and security, and we salute the members of Congress who voted for the Affordable Care Act.

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 7 million enrolled 3-31-14


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