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11 years later, the Affordable Care Act is getting the last laugh

The ACA is increasingly popular, effective, and necessary. Republicans have tried to repeal and sabotage the health care law, but it remains standing.
Image: President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.
President Barack Obama is applauded after signing the Affordable Care Act in the East Room of the White House on March 23, 2010.Win McNamee / Getty Images file

President Joe Biden is scheduled to appear in Columbus, Ohio, where he'll deliver remarks at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. The location is not coincidental: the president is eager to talk up health care advances in his administration's agenda, while also marking the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, which then-President Barack Obama signed into law exactly 11 years ago today.

And while I don't know what Biden will say in Ohio, I do know he has a success story to share. As the New York Times noted this morning:

Eleven years after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, the reach of the law is growing, with hundreds of thousands flocking to its marketplace and even deeply conservative states considering its Medicaid expansion.

The week after his inauguration in January, Biden created a special new ACA open-enrollment period, which has been well received: more than 200,000 American consumers have signed up for coverage.

Two months later, Democrats approved an ambitious COVID relief package, which made it difficult for even the most arithmetic-averse Republicans to say no to Medicaid expansion. It's having some effect, too: Republicans in Alabama and Wyoming are now open to taking the deal, since it effectively makes Medicaid expansion free, with extra money for the states on top.

In case that weren't quite enough, let's also not forget that the American Relief Plan will help millions of consumers who purchased insurance through the ACA by reducing the cost of their plans. In fact, for many low-income Americans, the Democrats' relief package will reduce the price of their coverage to zero for the next couple of years.

It's not exactly a secret that when "Obamacare" became the law of the land 11 years ago today, it was highly controversial. A coordinated and well-funded misinformation campaign had convinced much of the public that the ACA was a societal scourge that would impose Armageddon on families, murder seniors, and put the American experiment in jeopardy.

Those hysterical condemnations appear almost amusing in hindsight.

Eleven years after Biden whispered to Obama that the reform measure was a big bleeping deal, there's now little doubt he was right. The Affordable Care Act is increasingly popular, effective, and necessary. Republicans have tried to repeal and sabotage the health care law, but it remains standing, working as designed.

The threats to the ACA haven't disappeared -- Republicans have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to tear down the nation's health care system, and we're still awaiting word on the justices' ruling -- but on the anniversary of the law's creation, it's an American victory worth celebrating.