What’s in a name? Or a number?
By Denis Storey
Are we ready to argue about the uninsured again? What, you’ve started without me?
The good folks over at Gallup – a company whose name is synonymous with polling – have issued their latest round of uninsured polling. And from all appearances, it looks like PPACA is working, at least in terms of expanding coverage to previously uninsured Americans. According to these new numbers, the percentage of uninsured Americans is down to 15.9 percent. And that’s actually down from when the law was passed – and resting at a five-year low. If only the president could say the same about the jobless numbers…
But I digress.
So it must be PPACA, right? Well, maybe. Possibly. At least partially. See, Gallup figured that since the numbers improved so dramatically, especially among minorities and the lowest incomes, that the drop must be because the law, which was designed with these groups in mind.
But it’s still too early to tell, the pattern over the last year-and-a-half is too erratic and only tells one side of the law’s story. But I’ll get back to that in a minute.
Conservatives, of course, will denounce the study’s authors – in much the same way they did pollsters during the last presidential election who didn’t see things their way. Or they will argue that this improvement isn’t enough.
(By the way, would you question the credibility of Xerox when it comes to making photocopies? Or Styrofoam about their “closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam?” Or tell the people who make Dumpsters how to make a trash can?)
Meanwhile, liberals will no doubt champion this success of the law, forgetting how many more could have been covered with a halfway professional rollout.
But it’s just as important to keep two other factors firmly in mind:
One, barely half of this law has actually rolled out. From the excised provision to delays tumbling like dominoes, it’ll be at least another five years or so until it’s fully operational. And that’s provided there aren’t any more delays, and who really believes that’ll happen?
And, finally to the point I hinted at earlier: This poll reflects the “protection” part of the law, not the “affordable.” There’s nothing affordable about this law, whether it's tax payers, who are (or will be) picking up the tab for all those subsidies (not to mention Medicaid), to the actual exchange shoppers who either are paying for insurance for the first time in their lives or are just sticker shocked by the gold and platinum plan premiums. Conservatives need to ditch the flat earth attitude and accept the fact that more people have health insurance than they did half a decade ago. Then they can move on to the unsustainability of this path. It’s great more people have health care, but we can’t afford to keep paying for it like this. (And that’s still assuming we have enough doctors to treat all these people in another five years).
And liberals need to either embrace this law like a long lost lover or just walk away, pretending you don’t know her. Because you can’t have it both ways. And, trust me, if you keep putting off the wedding date, she’s gonna leave you anyway.