About a year ago at this time, the biggest political story in the nation was about, of all things, a website. The Affordable Care Act’s healthcare.gov was supposed to be accessible to consumers, but to the delight of the law’s conservative opponents, the site struggled badly for its first two months.
Republicans were gleeful. The media was transfixed. Pundits speculated that the website’s troubles represented “Obama’s Katrina” and threatened the future of progressive governance in America.
Of course, we now know that the problems were temporary; the website was fixed; and “Obamacare” enrollments exceeded all projections, succeeding in ways GOP lawmakers and their allies found horribly disappointing.
And as the new open-enrollment period gets underway, Republicans are being confronted with even more discouraging news: the system is working pretty well so far.
On the first day of enrollment for 2015 Obamacare plans, the federal insurance website was working well enough that 100,000 people submitted applications, U.S. health secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell reported.It was a dramatic turnabout from 2013, when healthcare.gov collapsed on its first day of business, costing Burwell’s predecessor her job. More than 500,000 visitors logged on to the site yesterday, Burwell said today on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”The federal enrollment system opened at about 1:30 a.m. New York time [Saturday], and U.S. health officials reported no technical problems in the first 24 hours.
In fairness, there were sporadic reports of delays for some consumers, and one state found that consumers were receiving false information on premiums, but overall, they were more the exception than the rule. Those hoping for a new round of failure were left wanting – the open-enrollment period progressing according to plan and is off to a fairly smooth start.
It’s unrealistic to think this year’s good news will generate the kind of attention last year’s missteps received – “Government program works exactly as intended, consumers happy and satisfied” isn’t a front-page headline newspapers are eager to run – but the White House can take some solace in the fact that this isn’t a fire that will need extinguishing.
With this in mind, why does Fox News continue to insist the Affordable Care Act is “failing the public”?
Ellie Sandmeyer highlighted some of the over-the-top condemnations from Fox on Friday:
On the November 14 edition of Fox & Friends, Dr. Marc Siegel argued that the ACA is “a cancer on the health care system because it’s infiltrating normal, healthy health-care tissue.” […]“In a conversation later on the same edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Eric Bolling claimed that in order to implement the ACA, the administration “fooled the public” into supporting the law, which is now “not working.” Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck went further, claiming that the ACA is “failing the public.”
To be sure, this isn’t the least bit surprising. But I keep waiting for Republican pundits and their allies to finish the sentence. I know they want to believe the law is “not working,” but I’m eager to hear why they believe that. I realize Fox wants its viewers to think the ACA is “failing the public,” but I want to see something – anything – the bolsters the argument in some credible way.
For example, I think “Obamacare” is working quite well. As proof, I can point to encouraging data on premiums. And customer satisfaction rates. And the growing number of insurers who want to participate in exchange marketplaces. And high enrollment totals with consumers who paid their premiums. And the efficacy of Medicaid expansion. And the sharp improvement in the nation’s uninsured rate.
On the other side, we see a lot of baseless assertions backed up by nothing.
I suppose the question I’m most eager to hear ACA opponents answer is, if the recent results aren’t evidence of success, what would be? If the right is desperate for Americans to believe “Obamacare” is “failing the public,” where is their proof?