The slow transition to healthcare normalcy

A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)
A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled “The Impact of Obamacare”, at a “Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally” in Littleton, New Hampshire in this October 27, 2012.
Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters
To hear Republicans tell it, the imminent collapse of the Affordable Care Act is upon us. It’s imploding. The failure is catastrophic. It’s a fiasco for the ages. It’ll all become clear, any minute now. Just wait.
It’s such a foregone conclusion that National Journal reports today that congressional Republican leaders will likely blow off the presentation of a GOP health care alterative. House Speaker John Boehner’s office, the piece says, “appears content to sit back and bet on Obamacare collapsing under its own weight.”
And while I don’t doubt that epistemic closure helps turn hopes into facts – Republican are only talking  to each other, and they’re all certain that the ACA is in the midst of an epic crash and burn – and that everyone within the far-right bubble has successfully blocked out inconvenient facts, for the rest of us, it’s becoming clearer that the law has successfully taken root.
Obamacare’s troubled rollout hasn’t scared insurers out of the marketplace. Instead, speaking to thousands of health-care investors gathered in San Francisco, plan executives describe the Affordable Care Act as, at worst, a fixable mess and, at best, a major growth opportunity.
The executives’ commentary was a reminder that the health-care industry doesn’t set its watch by the election cycles which dominate Washington. They expected Obamacare to be a bit of a mess in 2014 – but they’re in it for the long haul.
Sarah Kliff talked to some insurers who were optimistic about the future prospects of the system, even if they lose money in 2014. If an implosion is due any minute now, it’s apparently been kept a secret from the insurance executives whose job it is to know.
OK, so the insurance industry, whose existence is largely on the line, doesn’t perceive  an imminent collapse of the Affordable Care Act. What about business leaders?
They don’t share Republicans’ assumptions, either. Robert Schlesinger reported yesterday that Randall Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T and the chairman of the Business Roundtable, a powerhouse lobbying group, is wholly unconcerned with the health care law. Indeed, he sees the ACA as a national program comparable to Social Security and Medicare. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has given up on opposing the reform law.
Maybe we’re reaching the point at which “Obamacare” is just a normal part of the American landscape?
Josh Marshall noted that the far-right sabotage campaign appears to have run its course.
I don’t want to be pollyannaish on this. I think supporters and opponents should be realistic. It’s not a slam dunk; it’s not “Mission Accomplished.” But the effort to use guerrilla policy warfare to collapse Obamacare with a ‘death spiral’ has failed.
The numbers show it. The stakeholders know it. The Obamacare dead-enders gave it their best shot, pushed the limits, spent lots of money. They even got a massive assist from the administration in the website debacle of October and November. But they failed. And now it’s too late.
Brian Beutler added:
If Obamacare faced the real threat of collapse, insurers would probably be panicked. But at an industry conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, executives were cautiously optimistic about enrollment totals and composition, and much more optimistic that the exchanges are real growth opportunities and will be functioning profit centers in the years ahead.
Obviously Republicans aren’t going to give up campaigning on Obamacare failures unless and until they can no longer derive any political advantage from it. Given the right’s fanaticism about the law they might keep it up for longer than that. But at this point their parallel efforts to curb enrollment stand only to harm the people who listen to them and take them seriously.
It’s getting much easier to imagine the point at which the political world will look back at this period and wonder what all the fuss was about.