Obamacare’s third year of open enrollment began on Sunday. People hoping to sign up saw a website with fresh photos and high-tech features. They found the actual insurance of the president’s signature law has gotten even worse. Unless something dramatic happens, this may be the year of the health care law’s collapse.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the No. 4 Republican in the Senate chamber, has never hid his contempt for the Affordable Care Act. Similarly, the Wyoming lawmaker is not above rooting for failure, even if the consequences put millions of families at risk.
And while the ACA and its successes have repeatedly left Republicans frustrated, hope springs eternal for Barrasso, who refuses to give up hope of disaster. His latest op-ed in the conservative Washington Times comes with an unintentionally amusing headline: "Beginning of the end of Obamacare."
The far-right senator concluded that, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, "Obamacare is failing because too many people want nothing to do with it.... We may look back at this past Sunday as the beginning of the end."
And who knows, maybe Barrasso is right and the ACA's successes are merely an elaborate ruse, distracting us from its imminent and inevitable "collapse."
But if recent history is any guide, it's probably best to approach the Wyoming lawmaker's assessments with some skepticism.
Earlier this year, for example, we learned that the Affordable Care Act had extended health security to roughly 17 million Americans, slashing the nation’s uninsured rate by over a third. Barrasso responded by arguing, “Millions of people have lost coverage they liked" -- a dubious claim unsupported by the evidence -- and adding that extending coverage to millions through Medicaid expansion is “hardly worth celebrating.”
He didn’t say why, exactly, he finds it discouraging when low-income families receive coverage through Medicaid.
Around the same time, when administration officials cheered enrollment totals, Barrasso insisted, “It’s time for the White House to stop celebrating and start thinking about the people,” which even at the time didn't make any sense.
Better yet, in April 2014, when enrollment figures were better than anyone expected, Barrasso, without proof, accused the White House of deliberate fraud -- an argument that looks even more ridiculous in hindsight.
And now Barrasso would have us believe that the Affordable Care Act is on death's door, and the whole system is facing a 2015 "collapse." Sure it is, senator. Sure it is.
Postscript: A year and a half ago, the Wyoming lawmaker was identified as the leader of a Senate "working group" responsible for crafting a Republican alternative to the ACA. Here's a question to ponder: which do you suppose will come first, the release of the Republican health-care reform plan, which has been in the works for over six years, or the "collapse" of the Affordable Care Act?