This week, the numbers came out on January's enrollment numbers in the state and federal exchanges for the Affordable Care Act. An impressive 1.1 million Americans picked plans through the exchanges last month, blowing away every month preceding it, and increasing enrollment numbers by 53% from the previous three months combined.
You think the overall 53% increase is impressive? Then get ready for the real blowout: youth enrollment (18-34) rose by a whopping 65%
The January blowout in enrollment numbers in Obamacare has the numbers looking like this:
- A total of 3.3 million Americans have picked private plans through state and federally run marketplaces. 82% (2.7 million) of them have received financial assistance.
- Another 3.2 million Americans have become eligible for Medicaid (and CHIP) through the exchanges. This is the first month the Medicaid numbers for the exchanges have been separated from people who otherwise qualified through state programs, so we have a better idea of the impact of the ACA.
- Add to this the 3.1 million young adults under 26 who have coverage on their parents' plans thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act.
Put another way, cumulatively, as of this moment, at least 9.6 million Americans have health insurance coverage thanks to Obamacare. These 9.6 million people live in every state, every city, every Congressional district. And those 9.6 million people are the reasons why Obamacare is already impossible to repeal.
Any serious threat to repeal the law will have to pass through millions of parents who aren't going to vote for people who would take away health insurance from their adult children, let alone the young adults themselves. Even the conservative parents taking advantage of this provision aren't dumb enough to sacrifice their children's well being at the alter of ideological fights. Well, most of them.
Any serious threat of repeal will have to face 3.3 million Americans (already - and quite likely double this number by the time open enrollment ends on March 31) who now have coverage that cannot be taken away if they lose or change jobs, or start their own business. For 2.7 million of them, repeal proponents will have to explain why they are directly taking money out of their pockets in order to satisfy their political agenda.
And any serious threat of repeal will have to go through the 3.2 million working class Americans who just became eligible for affordable health care (Medicaid) thanks only to the Affordable Care Act. If health care opponents don't think that people on small incomes can organize to become a potent political force, I direct them to the state-by-state, locality-by-locality push for a living wage by fast food workers that has taken on a national persona. And oh, I direct them to a community organizer who began his career by organizing the poor. Said community organizer now lives in the White House.
We are hitting critical mass with the Affordable Care Act now. This is the time it goes from "oh, those people were helped by Obamacare" to "Someone I know and love has health care because of Obamacare" to "Keep your government hands off my Obamacare!"
There is no turning back. Like Social Security and Medicare before it, the Affordable Care Act is now a quintessential part of the American social compact.
That's why we are beginning to see Democrats hit back at Republicans
- though far too timidly for my taste - who are trying to run on repeal. My advice to Democrats running for office: stop tip toeing around it and own the fact that it took a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress to make affordable health care a right for all Americans and a responsibility of a just society. Stop running scared of the people who want to rob 10 million Americans of their health care (as of now) and be proud of doing something useful with your time in office.