An Affordable Healthcare Act supporter (R) talks with a student (L) about the law on the campus of Santa Monica City College in Santa Monica, California, October 10, 2013.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

The ‘Obamacare’ victory lap takes another spin

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act have had quite a few reasons to celebrate lately, and as of yesterday, the news keeps getting better.
Consumers in much of the country will have a broader selection of health insurance plans next year, the Obama administration said Tuesday, as it predicted an increase of about 25 percent in the number of insurers that are expected to compete in federal and state marketplaces. […]
So far, [administration officials] said, the number of insurers, also known as issuers, is up to 315 next year, from 252 this year. For the 36 states served by the federal marketplace, it said, the number is up almost 30 percent, to 248 next year, from 191 this year.
When congressional Republicans predicted that private insurers would want nothing to do with “Obamacare,” and the lack of participation would be a disaster for consumers, the GOP lawmakers had it backwards. Competition has already helped hold down premiums, and with more insurance companies now eager to get into the system and compete for Americans’ business, consumers are poised to benefit even more.
This follows more good ACA news from the day before, when we learned consumers who shop around next year can expect to find some great deals, including premium increases of about 1%. And even if Americans don’t shop around and stick with what they’ve got, premium increases will be a fraction of what they were before the Affordable Care Act became law.
This followed good news about the number of Americans paying their premiums after enrolling through an ACA exchange. Which followed good news about Medicaid expansion. Ezra Klein noted two weeks ago that President Obama’s “signature accomplishment” is “succeeding beyond all reasonable expectation.”
And what, pray tell, do congressional Republicans have to say now? I’m glad you asked.
The conservative Washington Times reports that GOP lawmakers are still predicting that failure is right around the corner.
Republicans predicted enrollment will decline. The House Energy and Commerce Committee said the administration had initially announced 8 million Americans had signed up for Obamacare as of late spring, which means the 7.3 million figure represents the beginning of that decline.
GOP lawmakers also said they are concerned with continuing reports about the initial Obamacare rollout last October.
First, the 7.3 million figure is evidence of success, not decline. Second, for a party to still want to talk about two months of website troubles last year is kind of pathetic.
And third, any sentence about the health care debate that begins with the words “Republicans predicted” should draw immediate laughter.
For several years, Republicans have predicted all sorts of things: death panels, death spirals, soaring premiums, reluctant insurers, consumer disinterest, unpaid premiums, massive deficits, and an uninsured rate that just won’t go down.
Everything  – everything – the GOP predicted about the Affordable Care Act turned out to be wrong. And yet, confronted with evidence of the system’s success, Republicans are still predicting failure.
A mature, responsible political party would take this opportunity to regroup, take stock, and try to understand why it was so wrong, so often, about a critically important policy debate. Republicans, on the other hand, apparently prefer the “keep hoping for the worst, evidence be damned” approach to health care.