On yesterday, April 1st, President Obama announced that over 7.1 million Americans have enrolled for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This was a significant announcement. What that means is, as of March 31, the end of the initial enrollment period for Obamacare, the program exceeded its initial enrollment goal, despite the copious foray of outrageous slings and arrows launched by a variety of haters.
After months of speculation, skepticism, and flat out derision, the total provided a surprising, and no doubt satisfying victory for the President. The race for enrollment began in October and spanned six months. In the initial stages, the computer system established to facilitate enrollment was plagued with problems. Actual sign-up was so sporadic, there were reports of customers trying for hours, unsuccessfully, just to log on to the system…and still not being able to do so.
Opponents of the ACA, many of the same Republicans who garnered so much disdain for the ill-conceived notion of shutting down the Government, discovered newfound energy and an improbable resurgence due to the ineffective rollout. The GOP moved from widely scorned to openly ebullient in a matter of weeks. Conversely, Democrats, who never wholeheartedly embraced the ACA in the first place, went from moderately confident, to routinely avoiding the President and calling for their own revisions to Obamacare.
All the while, the President and his team moved deliberately in their efforts to right the ship, and continually expressed confidence the program would deliver the goods. The message the Obama Administration continued to hang its hat on was that the problem was centered in the computer system design, not the premise or the purpose of the ACA. He argued that tens of millions of Americans lacked coverage, and would be better served by the ACA than the current system, or by repealing Obama, with no replacement, which was for all practical purposes, the substance of the Republican alternative.
The GOP has rolled the dice with its relentlessly strident opposition to the ACA. On March 5, The GOP-led House of Representatives took its 50th vote to repeal, rescind, or remake Obamacare. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Speaker of the House John Boehner are among the GOP leaders who continue to look for ever new and more inventive ways to attack the program and undermine a President their Party placed a premium on defeating and nullifying since before his initial Inauguration. The Plan, as it were, was to attack the President’s key advisers, oppose his economic proposals, pounce upon vulnerable Democrats, win back the House in 2010, and defeat President Obama in 2012. While they did not achieve all their objectives, after all, Mr. Obama is still President, their zeal and commitment has not receded.
As the first quarter of 2014 is a memory, and the races for November campaigns heat up, it will be interesting to see how fervently Republicans stick to the script on its attempts to repeal a program for which millions of Americans have signed-up. By enrolling in the ACA, many of these Americans are becoming insured for the first time. Many more are obtaining better and or more comprehensive coverage, and others still able to rid themselves of lifetime capes, of nettlesome precondition clauses. When the dust settles, will the Party of No continue to adhere to its position; despite the likelihood large blocks of voters will have derived considerable benefit from the program they have so enthusiastically scorned?
Yesterday, in claiming victory President Obama noted “The program approved by Congress in 2010 – with no Republican support and vilified relentlessly by the GOP as government overreach – has been a force for good.”
The battle is by no means over. The 7.1 million number represents only those who have signed-up for coverage. Not all of them have paid. They will have until mid-April to complete the process, however.
Ultimately, this is a victory for the President, and for the millions of Americans who were uninsured or underinsured. The GOP, undoubtedly, will continue its efforts to destroy Obamacare. The key question is will they pay a price for it at the polls in November. The answer to that query is months away. However, we know with irreducible certitude at the moment is, “Obamacare Hits Target: No April Fools’ Gag!”
I’m done holla back!
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