The GOP's Unhealthy Approach to Obamacare

Ever since President Obama and other Democrats began working on the Affordable Care Act back in 2009, there was a simple hearts-and-minds fight between them and their opponents over the law. Democrats said, "This is going to be great!" while Republicans said, "This is going to be terrible!" As a citizen, you could believe either one of them, or neither, or a little of both. This coming October, however, enrollment will begin in the new insurance exchanges established by the law, with coverage taking effect on January 1st. At that point, in addition to trying to influence the public's opinions, the administration will be trying to affect their behavior. In particular, the administration will be trying to encourage young people—many of whom don't get insurance through their jobs, and who often believe that they'll never get sick or in an accident—to sign up for coverage. You won't have to work as hard to convince a 60-year-old with diabetes to get covered; Obamacare is just what he's been waiting for. That young person might need a little persuading, which is why Obama is enlisting the aid of actors and musicians to get the word out.

Young people are critical to the effort, because if a system in which insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn people down for coverage is going to work, the risk needs to be spread among both more healthy and less healthy people. Otherwise, you could wind up with a "death spiral," in which only sick people bother to get covered and the costs per enrollee spin out of control. This is what you'd have if the insurance companies are required to take anyone ("guaranteed issue") without an individual mandate. But the individual mandate isn't really a mandate, it's a small fine (significantly less than the cost of insurance itself), which is why some persuasion is necessary.

And this is where Obamacare's opponents see their opening. According to an article published today by Reuters, "Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage." Yes, you read that right. They're actually going to tell people—those who have no health insurance, who are one illness or accident away from bankruptcy, the people whom the old system in all its market-driven wisdom leaves so vulnerable—they're actually going to tell them to stay uninsured.

Words fail us.

SO THEY SAY

Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the Court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to pre-clearance as necessary. My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.

Attorney General Eric Holder, announcing a plan to take legal action against state-level voter suppression

DAILY MEME: WHY NORTH CAROLINA IS THE WORST

WHAT WE'RE WRITING

  • Women usually wait decades to run for political office. Jaime Fuller writes about Running Start, an organization with a plan to change that.
  • GOP lawmakers are trying to change North Carolina’s voting laws from the South’s most progressive to the region’s most restrictive. But, as Abby Rapoport writes, they may win this fight only to lose the long-term battle.

WHAT WE'RE READING 

  • There's a nefarious conservative listserv! They are making the hashtags!
  • After her son's death, one mom is fighting for anti-hazing legislation. FratPAC wouldrather she didn't.
  • You don't need to read This Town. You only need to read Molly Ball's piece on theThis Town book party.
  • Hey, they found a Republican Obamacare supporter! One problem, though. He's dead.
  • After the 2010 elections, House Republicans placed a moratorium on earmarks, but some now are reconsidering the hold for fear of giving the President more power.
  • An amendment by Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) to defund the NSA's metadata collecting program failed by only twelve votes, with many Democrats voting "yes" despite opposition by the White House.
  • A source close to the family says after Anthony Weiner engaged in another online affair, wife Huma Abedin considered leaving him. 
  • Fast food workers are looking to expand their protests for a living wage to seven more cities, including Flint, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri. Low-wage workers at stores like the Dollar Tree and Victoria's Secret are expected to join the protesters.
  • "Like the uncle who utters outrageous things during the holiday dinner, King makes everyone else seem reasonable by contrast." The twin problems and positivespresented by Representative Steve King.

Poll of the Day

Just 23 percent of Americans under 35 call themselves Republicans, according to a newWall Street Journal/NBC News poll. That’s compared with 50 percent in the same category who consider themselves Democrats. Also according to the poll, only 30 percent of women of any age consider themselves a part of the GOP.

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