For quite a while, Republican critics of the Affordable Care Act seemed certain that the law would not reduce the uninsured rate. For GOP officials, “Obamacare” would really only help those who already have coverage, the argument said, so there was no reason to expect the number of Americans without insurance to improve.
This, like every other Republican prediction on the health care law, turned out to be completely wrong.
This left GOP officials with a bit of a challenge. They could either acknowledge reality but move the goalposts, or they could simply pretend reality doesn’t exist at all. ThinkProgress found a great example of the latter.
In an interview with the Trussville Tribune earlier this week, freshman Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) declared that, on net, no additional people have gained insurance since the passage of Obamacare. “I’m not sure that’s true that more people are covered,” Palmer declared after the host noted that more people have health care today than in 2010. “There’s just about as many people uninsured now as there were before the Affordable Care Act.”
I’m not unsympathetic to the Republicans’ dilemma here – the facts really do make their job difficult. Consider:
1. If Obamacare is successfully reducing the uninsured rate, it means the law is working effectively.
2. Obamacare can’t be working effectively, because it’s Obamacare.
3. .Ergo, the uninsured rate isn’t improving.
And while this framework probably brings comfort to those who feel the need to oppose the ACA for partisan and ideological reasons, facts be damned, the trouble is reality just keeps getting in the way.
This isn’t in the realm of opinion. The Affordable Care Act has done a fantastic job in extending health security to millions of previously uninsured consumers, which, naturally, has caused a sharp drop in the nation’s uninsured rate. Republicans may find all of this terribly inconvenient, but it’s just what’s happened.
The alternative GOP line ,which wouldn’t be persuasive either, would be to say that Republicans have changed their minds and they no longer consider an improved uninsured rate important. To be sure, such a posture would be laughable, but it would at least be coherent.
But instead we see members of Congress arguing, out loud and in public, “There’s just about as many people uninsured now as there were before the Affordable Care Act,” which is demonstrably ridiculous.