By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Even as the GOP struggles to hold onto to its wacky Tea Party base and appease the country clubbers who finance the show, it finds it can unite on one thing: It Loves the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). That’s right, the party who issued dire warnings over death panels and runaway costs, and rationing, and lost jobs just heard from its grass-roots and … they LOVE it. According to the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that “aims to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable,” polling shows 74% of persons who had the guts to identify themselves as Republicans “said that they were very or somewhat satisfied with their new insurance plan.” And even more remarkably for that “sky-is-always-falling” crowd, they’re optimistic .. yes, optimistic, that “new health coverage will improve their ability to get the care they need.” What ? No waiting lines, no rationing of health care ? No shadowy board saying Grandma must die because she needs hormone replacement therapy?
What is this our conservative brethren cry? Well, it’s reality and everything Republican leaders hoped — for purely political reasons — it wouldn’t be. Like the number of uninsured dropping from 15.6% to 13.4% in just one quarter. This is “the lowest quarterly average recorded since Gallup and Healthways began tracking the percentage of uninsured Americans in 2008. ” Oh, then there’s the actual people who now can get the healthcare they need (and that most civilized nations regard as a civil right). Over fifteen million Americans have signed up for coverage by the end of the last enrollment period and about 8 million went through the exchange. A Kaiser Survey found that nearly 6 out of 10 of the 8 million who enrolled in the marketplace were previously uninsured. Maybe that will reduce the 25,000 American per year who, pre-ACA, were dying from little or no healthcare.
And what about the demographics of those recently insured? Those cut across all age groups except those 65+ due to their eligibility to Medicare.
Not seeing the doctor of their choice, I bet. Nope that canard has gone the way of the buggy whip too, according to the Washington Post. “Just about one in five of those with new coverage, though, said they tried to find a primary care doctor — but of those, 75 percent said their search was somewhat easy or very easy.” So 80% kept their doctor, and 75% said getting a new one –if they had to — was easy. That lying Obama saying that everyone will get to keep their doctor and plan. Throw him in jail for that whopper!
And lastly, what about that great Republican bugaboo. You know the one where we’ll all wait years for surgeries or even just to see a specialist under Obamacare? Well, the Commonwealth Fund says that 58% of those newly insured who needed to see specialists did so in two weeks. Two weeks? That’s how long it tales me to get a plumber out to my house!
So, with the dire predictions of the demise of healthcare system via the ACA effectively debunked what does it mean for the GOP’s singular wedge issue? Plan B: The President’s travel schedule? ( He won’t “visit the border,” you know) Well, maybe, but the bigger problem is the disconnect between GOP leadership and its apparently healthy and satisfied membership. Taking away the things that people like by their own government has never really been a winning political strategy. See, Prohibition, i.e. disaster.
Even more politically challenging is that independents love Obamacare more than Republicans. By a 85% to 15% gap, independent voters can’t get enough of quality affordable health care that, for the first time in a long time, actually costs less per month than their mortgage. Try that on for size GOP. Who’s left to vote? Undocumented workers? Oh, sorry, they can’t and well, a lot are Hispanic and … you know … you’re not doing so great on immigration reform. Next subject, please.
Already facing a demographic nightmare in 2016 when even more young people and minorities are expected to vote, the GOP presidential chances stand at a crossroads. Give up the best issue you thought you had: government “takeover” of the healthcare system or change? What would a savvy political party do? Well, change of course. For the GOP? Well, they do love a good collision course with reality sometimes.
Ok, all you political operatives in the making, what do you think:
Source: Commonwealth Fund and throughout.
~Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
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