Despite the fact so many of us fought for it, Obamacare never has been popular. It wasn’t popular among Progressives when Obama first proposed it, because it wasn’t the single-payer system they wanted. It wasn’t popular among Conservatives, because Mitt Romney hearkened back to 1947 when he called it “socialized medicine,” and put Obama’s name in front of it. And it sure wasn’t popular before that, when Romney himself instituted an almost identical plan in Massachusetts. And it REALLY wasn’t popular when none other than The Heritage Foundation foundation came up with the “individual mandate/public subsidy” plan in 1989, as an alternative to “socialist” single payer insurance. Yup.
But despite the fact that somehow the ACA has gone from a corporatist concept so far to the right that not even George Bush could get it passed, to labeled as “socialist” by the very foundation that created it…the fact is, the main body of the ACA has at least succeeded in dropping the rates of uninsured people to the lowest they’ve been in history.
That, while simultaneously slowing the increase in medical costs to an equally historic low.
According to the latest data for the second quarter of 2014, released by the National Center for Health Statistics, only 11.3 percent of Americans are now without some form of healthcare. That’s a precipitous drop from 14.4 percent through 2013 — and that’s only from the second quarter of this year. It’s not even counting the 2.5 million who just signed up last month, which would drop it by about another 1 percent.
Even without that, though, uninsured rates are still now officially the lowest they’ve ever been in the 50 years they’ve been keeping track — since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, that is. And it’s the first time we’ve seen numbers anywhere near this low since…
…well, since Reagan’s first year in office.
That year, 1980, was the beginning of a 35-year arc that saw uninsured rates steadily climbing to a peak of 16 percent in the United States. And it would have been about 22 percent by now, had said increase not oddly begun to level off in 1994. Wait…something happened that year. What was it again?
Oh, yes. Clinton.
So, all things considered, it looks like The Heritage Foundation’s plan is working out pretty well. At least compared to their good friend Ronald Reagan’s non-plan. Maybe Reagan’s VP Bush should have listened to them in ’89 — God knows his old boss certainly wasn’t shy about enacting 60 percent of the 2,000 proposals Adolph Coors and the Kochs wrote for him.
Better late than never, though.
Still, while we are off to a pretty good start under The Heritage Plan (Classic), there is a way we could be at ZERO percent uninsured tomorrow. But, you know these unpopular public initiatives…no matter how well they work, someone’s always going to come along and call it socialism.
Nevermind what they called it 25 years ago.