He couldn't afford a transplant. He qualified for Kansas Medicaid coverage for those with high medical expenses, but he couldn't meet the spenddown requirements to have continuous coverage. "While we could have done the transplant even without charging him, the medication he would never be able to afford," said Dr. Andrew Kao, his heart specialist. Anti-rejection medicine costs $4,000 a month and must be taken daily to keep the new heart. [...] He couldn't get private health insurance because of his pre-existing heart condition. But as of January 1, with the health care law, insurers can no longer deny coverage. O'Dell and his wife were able to get coverage through the health insurance marketplace for $190 a month. That allowed him to go on the transplant waiting list.
The longer the Affordable Care Act exists, the more Americans there will be who are thankful that it does.
The University of South Florida's news outlet ran a piece this week, for example, quoting a number of local Republicans who've embraced the law. "I did not vote for Obama," Irene Jacusis said. "But I am so in love with this plan." Jacusis said she knows her party is committed to destroying the health care law she loves, but she doesn't think Republicans will actually repeal the ACA because "there are too many people out there who need this and require it."
The same report quoted another local woman named Mary Fallon who, after learning her monthly premiums would drop from $768 to $150, cried with joy: "I just held my hands up in the air. Thank you, god. Finally, some relief. I couldn't do it anymore." She intends to spend the extra money in her pocked to "restart the economic engine."
Another local woman, Peggy Arvanitas, literally takes it upon herself to drive Republican voters to the polls on Election Day, but now that she's paying just $10 a month for coverage, she's decided she loves the Affordable Care Act. "It isn't a Democrat or Republican issue," she said. "It's a health care issue."
And then there's the dramatic story of Mike O'Dell, who's alive today in part because of "Obamacare."
The Fox affiliate in Kansas City ran this report on O'Dell, who recently received a new heart, saving his life.
The report quoted the man's wife saying, "He wouldn't be here with me or my children if it weren't for the Obamacare."
To be sure, anecdotes aren't data. Reports that highlight satisfied customers are nice, and may give ACA backers a morale boost, but they're probably not going to persuade detractors to stop attacking the law or calling for its repeal.
That said, I do believe there's a cumulative effect when these folks and others, many of whom were skeptical of "Obamacare," suddenly discover they like the law after all.
What the ACA needs is more time to reach people like Mike O'Dell or the Floridians featured above. These folks have embraced the benefits; their friends and family hear about their experiences; then the public at large learns about these successes from news outlets willing to cover them.
Opponents of the law scrambled furiously to stop the ACA before open enrollment, not because they feared Americans would be let down by the law, but for the opposite reason -- they feared consumers would actually like the law, making it impossible to repeal, and making President Obama the champion who brought health security to millions of families.
Slowly but surely, the success stories are adding up.