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Obamacare ‘the’ issue of 2014

The mantra for the Republican Party since 2010 has had just two arguments and fewer legislative accomplishments.

The two arguments are “repeal and replace” Obamacare and “the crimes of Benghazi.”

Benghazi is going nowhere for some pretty good reasons. Primarily the Benghazi claims are going nowhere because there is no “there” there, no crimes, no malicious intent, nothing but the fact that terrorists killed four American patriots.

But with Obamacare Republicans have held onto the gift they hope that keeps on giving. In 2010 Republicans captured the majority in the House of Representatives by campaigning against the Affordable Care Act.

Recognizing they had no other real position issues to argue Republicans fired the Obamacare bullet again in the 2012 presidential election with significantly poorer results, but took solace in the claim that their candidate was the problem, not their angst against the ACA.

As the 2014 elections loom ever closer Republicans are once against campaigning to repeal and replace the hated Obamacare. Their core voters love them for the effort, with about 80 percent of Republicans cheering the attack.

And polls suggest Independents are far from in love with the ACA. While most polling shows minor improvement in the ACA the increases in support are, for the most part, still within the range of the margin of error.

Democrats are almost as locked into supporting the ACA, passed with zero Republican votes, as Republicans are committed against the law.

It seems clear that Obamacare will once again be “the” issue of 2014.

Who will win the argument?

We won’t know the answer to that question until post-election reviews reveal the issues that drove voters to mark their ballots. But in the meantime we do know a good deal about how the ACA is faring in the arena of fact.

When the Congressional Budget Office originally estimated the first-year signups for the ACA they arrived at 7 million as their best estimate. As it turns out, website follies and all, the actual 7.1 million enrollees proved the veracity of the CBO’s work.

Given that it is worth examining what the CBO estimates in the near future about the ACA.

According to the CBO in conjunction with the Joint Committee on Taxation, from 2017 through 2024 approximately 24 million individuals will enroll in Obamacare annually through the exchanges. Another 12 million will be added to the Medicaid and CHIP roles annually. About 25 million fewer people will be uninsured as a result of Obamacare.

Both the CBO and the JTC estimate that the total fiscal effect of Obamacare will be to reduce the federal deficit.

To repeal and replace (given there remains no unified replacement alternative at this time) would increase the deficit from 2013-2022 by $109 billion.

So repeal and replace would add to the deficit, leave 25 million citizens seeking new healthcare insurance, and put at risk benefits of the ACA like ending the Donut hole, preventative care policies, the end of cancellations, and the end of lifetime insurance limits among other ACA benefits.

Is it not time to change the mantra from replace and repeal to adjust and amend?

If not now, then when? Or will the ACA be like Social Security for many on the far Right, seen forever has unacceptable no matter how many Americans benefit?

Governing ought to be about more than running for re-election on slogans. It should be about honestly accessing the nations’ interests and making government serve those needs.

It is time to make the ACA the best it can be for America.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.