Republicans think they’ve got a winner in Obamacare. They are so sure that the program is going to fail, that they are almost giddy. And in states across the country, Republicans governors and legislatures are doing everything they can to sabotage the implementation.
In North Carolina, as in other Republican controlled states, the legislature and Pat McCrory rejected the expansion of Medicaid and refused to set up state exchanges. As a result, our premiums are higher than those of states that accepted the expansion and established their own market places. Republicans are sure that Democrats will get the blame.
But what if Democrats don’t get the blame? What if people in North Carolina notice that in other states more people are insured and that premiums are not skyrocketing? What if they find that, in fact, health care costs are actually coming down?
Unfortunately for Republicans, the biggest problem with Obamacare so far is the website. That will get fixed. On the merits, the Affordable Care Act is working. In states that accepted the Medicaid expansion and set up their own exchanges, people are signing up and most aren’t finding the exorbitant prices the GOP promised.
The GOP and its allies have spent so much money on advertising telling the American people that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery, that expectations for failure are high. People are expecting premiums to triple, health care costs to rise and coverage to decline. Instead, they are finding substantially better coverage at affordable prices.
Republicans have taken a big risk in putting so much energy into sabotaging health care reform. They forget that the vast majority of people wanted our system fixed. With the exception of the individual mandate, polls show support for the components of Obamacare even if they are leery of the program itself.
Republicans are banking that they can win just telling people what they oppose without telling them what they are for. In North Carolina, GOP leaders are on the record saying people should use the emergency room as their primary source of health care. That’s a sorry position to take. With 300,000 people left uninsured, that ad writes itself.
So while Republicans are running ads telling people that Democrats are letting government take over the health care system, Democrats are going to be telling voters in states like North Carolina that Republicans increased their insurance premiums and left 300,000 without health care at all. I think voters are more self-interested than ideological.