Three Reasons The Affordable Care Act Will Survive


Some republican lawmakers, conservative intellectuals, and their constituents will never stop excoriating the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). They will never admit they were wrong about its negative impact on businesses, but will instead wait and hope for its collapse. A time, no matter how far in the future where they can say, we told you it was the worse legislation ever passed. But by all indications their I told you so moment won't come anytime soon, if ever. And here are three simple reasons why:

  1. It’s Working
  2. It’s Not Failing
  3. It’s Better Than The Alternative(s)
It's Working. Obamacare recently marked its five-year anniversary, but it will take many more years before anyone knows its real impact. But what is certain is that for every pronouncement of Obamacare success, there is a rebuttal.

Claim: Sixteen million Americans gain access to healthcare
Rebuttal: It’s due to Medicaid expansion

Claim: Health insurance premiums are increasing at a lower rate…
Rebuttal: It’s due to government subsidies to large health insurers

Yet Obamacare can legitimately claim some success. More people do have access to health insurance. People are receiving physicals and have access to needed medications. Hospitals are experiencing a reduction in unpaid bills.
And states that previously rejected Medicaid expansion are finding ways to accept it.

It's Not Failing. Obamacare opponents want to have it both ways. First they complain that the law is the largest piece of legislation ever created by far at almost 11,000 pages. They say it is too complex for individuals and businesses to understand and comply with its many provisions. They label it a job destroyer and say it will lead to even higher health insurance premiums.

Meanwhile, as the Obama administration tries to work around the many complications that this unprecedented legislation was bound to encounter, Obamacare opponents try to use these difficulties to prove the law is unworkable. However, their efforts are failing. They are failing because for every problem there is a solution. The first open enrollment demonstrated how ill-prepared the Administration was to handle enrollment through the federal exchange, but by the second open enrollment, basic enrollment issues were resolved. Because fixing even large computer systems is doable. The postponement of the individual mandate is also interpreted as a failure, but by taking more time and addressing challenges sooner rather than later, the chances of successful implementation increase.

Obamacare opponents waste so much energy and credibility predicting Obamacare failures, only to learn that they can all be overcome.

It's Better Than The Alternatives. Obamacare opponents refuse to genuinely acknowledge the amount of suffering people experienced under the pre-Obamacare healthcare system. No amount of data or anecdotal stories about people struggling with medical debt, physical and emotional pain or even dying moves them. In fact, many go so far as to claim the prior system worked fine.

But it is this mean-spiritedness that will help Obamacare survive. People receiving medication to alleviate the pain of chronic illnesses because of Obamacare will feel the cruelty of having it taken away. Despite what the opposition may say, it's not merely the fact of not being able to take something away once given, it's about what they are trying to take away. Trying to take away a life without debilitating pain is not just anything--it's the difference between compassion and a lack of compassion.

Now I am not saying that everyone who opposes Obamacare is a cold-hearted monster. I know that people genuinely think the law encroaches on free enterprise, or interferes with the employer-employee relationship, or costs too much. But what all Obamacare opponents forget or ignore is that human suffering outweighs all of these concerns. And I think the reason the opposition struggles to come up with a supportable alternative to Obamacare is this focus on the non-human costs of the law. That and they have the disadvantage of being the alternative. President Obama and his supporters already had a leg up on the opposition by addressing the healthcare issue first.


Not all opposition to Obamacare is born out of hatred for the man who bears its name and his supporters, but a lot of it is. This negativity along with a visible lack of compassion for those in need of affordable health care, and a focus on perceived but unreal failures almost guarantees that Obamacare will survive. The opposition refuses to acknowledge how personal and powerful access to health insurance and health care is to those who never had it or struggle to keep it. Bottom line, they’re wrong on their predictions of doom and they’re wrong on why the law is increasing in popularity and the real human reasons it is here to stay. It’s not about free stuff; it’s about having important, even life-saving needs met.
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