Republicans in North Carolina can barely contain their glee. Insurance premiums in the state are rising by almost 33% for those purchasing coverage under the Affordable Care Act. To hear them tell it, the rate increases are proof that Obamacare doesn’t work.
Don’t believe it. Republicans get the blame for the increases. As Ned Barnett pointed out this weekend, the GOP did everything it could to sabotage Obamacare by refusing to expand Medicaid or set up a state exchange. They also banned the Department of Insurance from educating people and businesses about how to shop for insurance policies. In essence, they’ve done whatever they could to harm the program, regardless of the cost to the people of North Carolina.
Back in 2013, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin warned us of exactly what’s happened. Back then Goodwin told us that by not expanding Medicaid, the state created a pool of high-risk people that kept insurance companies from coming into the state, reducing the competition that is supposed to help keep premiums lower. Today, he’s still frustrated that his agency is banned from helping people and businesses find better insurance rates.
Contrary to Republican spin, Obamacare is working. It’s offered health insurance to an additional 17 million people. As even conservative columnist David Brooks notes, medical costs are increasing at a slower rate since the program was enacted. That’s what the program was meant to do: provide more coverage and help reduce costs.
Obamacare is far from perfect, but with cooperation instead of obstruction, the GOP could help make it better. Instead, they seem to think they can make the program an electoral issue for one more election cycle. Just last week, they took yet another vote to repeal it. The GOP presidential candidates routinely bash it, but taking health care away from 17 million people who need it is really a political non-starter. Obamacare, in some form, is here to stay. That’s what we should be celebrating.