Tuesday was the first day of the government shutdown, but it was also the first day in which uninsured Americans could take advantage of the open-enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act. Whether one considers this a positive development or not is apparently a matter of perspective.
So too are perceptions about whether things are going so well so far.
Much of the news coverage seems to have focused on overwhelmed online servers, which have struggled to keep up with demand. Joan McCarter, however, emphasized that there are many reports from across the country of satisfied consumers and strong public demand.
Obviously, in a nation as large as the United States, there will be plenty of anecdotal evidence to bolster just about every possible argument, but Sy Mukherjee talked to an Arkansas man yesterday who offered a perspective that ought to terrify Republicans.
Butch Matthews is a 61-year-old former small business owner from Little Rock, Arkansas who used to wake up every morning at 4 A.M. to deliver canned beverages to retailers before retiring in 2010. A lifelong Republican, he was heavily skeptical of the Affordable Care Act when it first passed. “I did not think that Obamacare was going to be a good plan, I did not think that it was going to help me at all,” he told ThinkProgress over the phone.
But after doing a little research, Matthews eventually realized how much the law could help him. And on Tuesday, his local Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) provider confirmed that he would be able to buy a far better plan than his current policy while saving at least $13,000 per year through Arkansas’ Obamacare marketplace.
Matthews assumed he wouldn’t like the Affordable Care Act, but he also didn’t like his current plan, the price of which kept climbing while covering fewer costs.
So he got the facts on his own, signed up through an exchange, and is poised to save an enormous amount of money.
Matthews told Mukherjee he would encourage other Obamacare skeptics to “learn more about it before they start talking bad about it.” He added, “I still am a very strong Republican, but this … I’m so happy that this came along…. [T]his is going to be a great help for us.”
It would appear, then, that Butch Matthews is the Republican Party’s worst nightmare.
Here’s an older white Republican man in a “red” state who assumed the Affordable Care Act would be bad for him and his family. Then he got educated. Then he signed up. Now he’s happy.
Why are Republicans furiously fighting to destroy the Affordable Care Act, especially right now? Because will be plenty of folks like Butch Matthews out there who’ll have health care security and more money in their pockets as a result of the reform law.
And that’s the exact opposite of the Republicans’ partisan goals. The key is to kill Obamacare before Americans get to know and like it. People can argue about the merits of a movement predicated on the need for public ignorance, but it’s clear that the better the public understands the Affordable Care Act, the worse it will be for the GOP.
Jonathan Cohn added today, “With every day, more and more people are discovering that Obamacare is a source of security – and a way to get the heath care they have always needed. This is the reality Republicans have always feared. Confronted with the reality of Obamacare, rather than the right’s distorted version of it, people will cherish it.”