Obamacare 3, Opponents 0. Game over.
No matter what you think of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that squeaked through a Democratic-controlled Congress and was signed into law by President Barack Obama, we think the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday sent a signal. By ruling that the federal government may continue to subsidize health insurance in the dozens of states that did not set up their own exchanges, it seems the courts are done with this topic.
It’s over. Move along. There’s nothing to see here. Obamacare, for better or worse, is not just part of a fashionable fabric of the times — it is the uniform of the day for the foreseeable future. The Rand Corp. estimates some 17 million people have gained health care coverage because of the ACA. How do you strip them of coverage?
As much as GOP detractors enjoy pulling at the threads in an attempt to unravel it, they are just going to have to wear it.
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Let’s recap the scoring.
Obamacare is made law in April 2010.
Obamacare 1, Opponents 0.
The Supreme Court upholds Obamacare’s penalty for not having insurance as a “tax” in June 2012.
Obamacare 2, Opponents 0.
The Supreme Court rules Thursday that some words in the statute — “established by the state” — did not mean that states without their own exchanges were ineligible for federal subsidies.
Obamacare 3, Opponents 0.
News flash to the GOP: Chief Justice John Roberts was never playing for your team. He provided the swing vote to preserve Obamacare in 2012 and he wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 decision announced Thursday.
We know better than to believe all opponents will move along. Regrettably, they will find each other and join in and continue this fight, perhaps believing this is a best-of-seven series and they can win the next four. Because it is a presidential election season and many of the announced candidates seem to think they are running against Obama, the anti-Obamacare fervor will continue to have legs.
What we believe the GOP needs to realize is this: Parents liked being able to keep insuring their kids until age 26; Americans liked the idea that nobody was without health insurance due to pre-existing conditions for which they had no control. The GOP had decades to find a way to fix those things; for whatever reason, we never saw it happen.
The stars and circumstances aligned in 2009 and 2010 for Obamacare. In an actual sense of irony, the GOP owes its present majority control in the House and Senate to the passionate debates over health care and other progressive items on the Obama agenda.
If the GOP ever wants to score in the Obamacare games, it is going to have to be by making it better, more efficient and more affordable. That is a fine, nonpartisan goal. Continuing to fight for its overall repeal is pointless. The most calculating Republicans know tweaking Obamacare is a better bet than being saddled with replacing it and dealing with the fallout of those depending on it.
The GOP has a choice: Pivot and focus on creating a winning 2016 agenda, or use up its political capital to pay Obamacare war debt.
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