but the real measure of Obamacare will be in the looming roll-out of
its most controversial caveats.
RALEIGH, N.C. — Perhaps the most telling statistic about the
Affordable Care Act as the controversial law turns four years old on
Sunday is this: 70 percent of Americans still don’t know they could
get their healthcare subsidized under the law.
But for those who do understand what the law is, what it does, and how
it’s changing life in America, Obamacare’s 4th anniversary is a major
turning point for the biggest federal entitlement expansion since the
To illustrate the stakes, nearly 40 “Moral Monday” protesters were
arrested in Atlanta this week as they disrupted capitol proceedings to
complain about Republican lawmakers opting the state out of the law’s
President Obama meanwhile lauded the law’s impact on healthcare for
women while Republican party chairman Reince Priebus called it a
“poisonous issue” for the ruling party in Washington, which has to
face Obamacare’s liabilities in its defense of a Senate majority in
While Democrats pushed the law’s myriad benefits ahead of the March 31
deadline to sign up — 5 million Americans have signed up, short of a 7
million goal — others, like top Internet aggregator Matt Drudge,
announced they had paid the first Obamacare tax — which he dubbed
“Liberty Tax” — for opting out of the law.
(The $95-per-adult penalty doesn’t take effect until next year, but
small business owners like Drudge who send quarterly installments to
the Treasury are technically on the hook now. That penalty fee ramps
up considerably in following years.)
Given the Democrats’ truth-twisting in campaign tidbits like “If you
like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance” — in
fact, lots of people were dropped from their health plans — the law
will likely only become more irresistible to Republicans as unintended
consequences pile up.
“Millions of Americans have personally discovered that they can’t keep
their coverage, can’t afford their premiums, can’t see their doctor,
and can’t work as many hours,” wrote Sen. John Barrasso (R) of Wyoming
on Fox News.
Passed along partisan lines in 2010, the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act makes it illegal for insurance companies to turn
people away for preexisting conditions, allows parents to keep their
kids on policies until age 26, and mandates that all American adults
buy a healthcare policy or face an annual tax penalty. OK’d by the
Supreme Court, the law, which primarily functions through government
“healthcare exchanges,” also subsidizes health care policies for
After a disastrous roll-out in October, Obamacare has become the crux
of the 2014 midterm elections. Unpopular among 53 percent of
Americans, the law will be hard to defend in competitive districts,
and could lead to a Republican takeover of the Senate.
For that reason, “it’s safe to say that Democrats are going to want to
ignore this anniversary,” Mr. Priebus said on Friday. “The Senate is
slipping away… it seems like every day the math is expanding…
because of Obamacare, we know that Democrats are in disarray.”
Indeed, a big problem for Democrats is that the math may not
ultimately add up. So far, those who will primarily pay for the law’s
subsidies — young, healthy people — have not yet signed up at the
rates Washington was hoping for, suggesting that a large percentage of
Obamacare enrollees are older Americans with health problems.
“Although many households qualify for federal subsidies, many others
find that the premiums in popular ‘silver’ plans aren’t cheap compared
with the modest penalties for skipping coverage,” the Monitor’s Mark
Trumbull wrote this week.
Nevertheless, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an architect of the
law, urged nervous Democrats to strongly defend the law. “I believe
that it’s a winner,” she said.
Four years after its passage in Congress, Obamacare looms over America
as a paradox: Despite making healthcare less of a worry and financial
drain for millions of Americans, it also represents for many others a
creeping, even sinister, intrusion of the federal government into the
lives of Americans.
“Whether the improving numbers [in Obamacare sign-ups] can be used to
reshape the political climate as it relates to the health care law
depends on whether Democrats on the ballot this year in competitive
races have the courage to more forcefully rebut the Republican
argument that the health care law is a disaster,” writes John King, on
Meanwhile, the long-term problem for Republicans is that, despite its
flaws and complexities, Obamacare provides real benefits that may
improve its popularity as its benefits become more ubiquitous.
In New Hampshire this week, for instance, Herb Richardson, a
Republican lawmaker, called Obamacare a “monstrosity,” but later
acknowledged the law had been a “financial lifesaver” for his family,
CBS News reported.