Friday, October 25, 2013

Congratulations, Republicans. Your Obamacare sabotage has screwed over millions

Here's the dirty secret behind the Republicans' big loss on defunding Obamacare in the shutdown: they lost that battle, but they have done pretty well in the overall war, because they've so royally screwed up implementation in half of the country with their three years of sabotage efforts, from the lawsuits to the lack of necessary funding from Congress to the refusal of states to expand Medicare or build their own exchanges. Here's how that's playing out in the states:

Don’t tell Elisabeth Benjamin it’s tough to sign up for Obamacare. For two weeks, she has been enrolling uninsured people from her New York City office through an online marketplace created by the law.

Most recently, she helped a Bronx home-health worker in her 30s get health coverage for $70 a month. [...]

In Texas, which has more uninsured than any other state, 90 health insurance navigators, doing the same job as Benjamin, haven’t been able to sign up a single person despite a flood of interest, said Tim McKinney, head of the United Way of Tarrant County. [...]

The state and federal exchanges are designed to sell health insurance to millions of Americans under the law known as Obamacare. More than half of about 500,000 enrollees since the Oct. 1 opening come from the 14 states running their own exchanges independent of the U.S. government. While enrollment continues through March, consumers must sign up and choose a plan by about Dec. 15 to get insurance coverage as of Jan. 1.

It's true in terms of Medicaid expansion, as well. Kaiser Family Foundation released a new report this month estimating that more than five million people will fall into the coverage gap: making too little income to qualify to purchase insurance on the health exchanges and too much to qualify for existing Medicaid. Texas should be particularly proud: fully 20 percent of those 5.2 million who won't be getting Medicaid—or any other coverage—are in that state. Florida is not far behind, at 15 percent. is improving in Texas, and will get fixed. People in all those states that refused to create their own exchanges will eventually be able to get their insurance. But the Republicans will still have scored a "victory" in making it as painful as possible, and in successfully keeping millions from even having the promise of health care.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Oct 24, 2013