Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has a solid explanation for why the right continues to weave their tales of doom regarding Obamacare. It’s not that their policy analysts have looked at the facts and drawn conclusions based on reason and logic that point to such disaster. It’s not even that they’re afraid of Obamacare working, striking a major blow into the heart of the GOP’s prospects for 2016, although that certainly does play a part. No, it’s that they’ve gotten so entrenched in their own dogma that they’re willfully ignorant of all the facts. They’re so unwilling to understand facts and evidence that they’ve almost made it so they can’t see the facts and evidence for themselves.
Krugman mentions how higher than expected enrollment numbers were accompanied with cries of disaster from the right. He says, “At this point, by my reckoning, the enemies of health reform are 0 for 6. That is, they made at least six distinct predictions about how Obamacare would fail — every one of which turned out to be wrong.”
Where is Obamacare successful? The answer to that is, it’s been successful in the enrollment numbers, in the age mix, and in individual cases. One particular case centered around a die-hard Obamacare opponent, who had his own logging business and a heard condition that eventually kept him from being able to work. He needed a heart valve replacement, which he couldn’t afford without insurance. He enrolled in Obamacare, and doing so allowed him to afford that surgery. Without it, he wouldn’t be alive today.
Residents of Oklahoma are paying an average of just $75 a month for the insurance they’re getting through the marketplace. Many credit Oklahoma’s success with competition, which is part of what the marketplace was designed to do. Republicans keep screaming about needing real competition, and here it is, and it’s bringing prices down.
Minnesota’s rate of uninsured plummeted like a rock thanks to Obamacare. Their uninsured rate is the lowest in their state’s history.
The incentives provided by Obamacare are helping to make hospitals safer and more efficient. The Department of Health and Human Services released a report stating that the rates of readmission, injuries, pressure ulcers (bed sores), and even ventilator-related pneumonia dropped dramatically because hospitals now have incentives to be safer and more efficient. That’s as opposed to jumping through hoops to try and recoup lost costs from the uninsured by performing unnecessary tests and charging outrageous rates for them.
Krugman also explains that the right’s denial of the facts, including the fact that Romneycare works in Massachusetts, and similar systems in Europe work well, comes from a deeply entrenched idea that government is literally incapable of doing anything efficiently. He says:
“But a firm conviction that the government can’t do anything useful — a dogmatic belief in public-sector incompetence — is now a central part of American conservatism, and the incompetence dogma has evidently made rational analysis of policy issues impossible.
It wasn’t always thus. If you go back two decades, to the last great fight over health reform, conservatives seem to have been relatively clearheaded about the policy prospects, albeit deeply cynical.”
Krugman says that, back in 1993, William Kristol warned Republicans to kill Clinton’s attempts at healthcare reform because of the damage a successful Democratic overhaul would do to the Republican Party’s image that they were advocating for the middle class by reining government in. Now, though, the problem is literally willful ignorance, along with the fact that they’re living in their own reality where facts are absent, and only blind dogma survives.
At the end, Krugman makes a dire warning with the following:
“While it has been funny watching the right-wing cling to its delusions about health reform, it’s also scary. After all, these people retain considerable ability to engage in policy mischief, and one of these days they may regain the White House. And you really, really don’t want people who reject facts they don’t like in that position. I mean, they might do unthinkable things, like starting a war for no good reason. Oh, wait.”
As usual, Krugman gets it exactly right.