“I promised to lower costs for families and ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care,” President Joe Biden declared in a written statement issued yesterday afternoon. “Today, we received further proof that our efforts are delivering record-breaking results.”
The Democrat’s boasts were understandable. As HuffPost reported, the Affordable Care Act just racked up one of its most impressive feats in the law’s history.
More than 16 million Americans have signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, setting a new record, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday. ... The 16.3 million number is not the final figure. It is likely to increase a bit as some final numbers come in from states that have longer enrollment periods and does not include a separate category of insurance ― “basic health plans” — that some states also make available. Taking into account those numbers, total signups are already above 17 million, according to Charles Gaba, who runs the website ACASignups.net.
This coincides with related data from last year that showed the nation’s uninsured rate improving to an all-time low.
It’s not surprising that the Biden administration would take this opportunity to brag about all of this. Circling back to our earlier coverage, the reform law continues to break its own record for extending health care coverage in part because the Biden administration launched an initiative to get people signed up — complete with a renewal of the navigator program — and in part because officials extended the length of the enrollment period.
But most important of all is the fact that insurance has never been more affordable than it is now: Democrats included generous new ACA subsidies in the party’s American Rescue Plan last year, with some consumers seeing their premiums fall to nearly or literally zero, and the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act kept the premium assistance in place.
The political dynamic has changed, too. As regular readers know, most Republicans have waved the white flag in the fight over “Obamacare.” Indeed, by all appearances, after more than a decade of relentless fighting, most of the GOP has abandoned its “repeal and replace” crusade, and the issue was largely ignored in the 2022 midterm elections.
“I think it’s probably here to stay,” Sen. John Cornyn recently told NBC News, referring to the ACA. Similarly, Rep. Mike Gallagher, a member of the Republican Study Committee, was asked whether he expects the new Republican House majority to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t think that’s on the table,” the Missouri congressman replied.
For those of us who covered the political fight over the reform law, this day seemed implausible. Before Barack Obama signed the ACA, Republicans condemned it as an economy-destroying attack on free enterprise and the American way of life. After “Obamacare” became law, GOP lawmakers spent years, not only denouncing the reforms, but voting several dozen times to repeal it.
Now, as the ACA racks up policy victories, even many of Capitol Hill’s most conservative Republicans have moved on. No wonder White House officials — and the millions of American consumers benefiting from the law — are celebrating.