You know how we cats have constantly berated the Obama Administration over their failure to communicate the benefits of the Affordable Care Act?
Well, they must have known something we didn't — as in, they didn't have to. Because Republicans are shining such a bright spotlight on healthcare reform, it now has an even bigger national platform than before.
In a weird sort of way, we imagine that's a good thing. Since most people aren't the political junkies we are, a lot of Americans who have already benefited from the ACA are probably wondering, "Gosh, what exactly is this Obamacare thing that Republicans are shutting down the government over?"
Which gives Democratic members of Congress, a couple of randomly sane Republicans, an army of well-informed punditheads and policy wonks, and myriad major news outlets many, many, many opportunities to explain. Such as:
- The Affordable Care Act was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President in 2010. It is not a bill. It is law, and it is being implemented in phases over several years.
- After considering umbrage-y legal challenges by sore-loser Republican attorneys general (like our own GOP gubernatorial candidate here in Virginia), the Supreme Court declared the Affordable Care Act constitutional in the summer of 2012.
- ACA benefits that have already taken effect include coverage for dependents through age 26, increased drug rebates for seniors, no more denial of coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, rebates to subscribers from insurers that spend too much money on overhead, and no more annual spending caps by insurers on your coverage.
- Next up: The health insurance exchanges, which will allow the uninsured to buy healthcare coverage at affordable rates, will start enrolling people tomorrow.
- And oh, by the way: The Republican platform in last year's Presidential election called for the repeal of Obamacare — even though their nominee created the model for it in Massachusetts, and even though the individual mandate was originally a Republican idea. The Republicans, you probably recall, lost that election.
John Boehner could pass a "clean" continuing resolution in the House of Representatives tonight, with no Obamacare strings attached, by relying on the Democratic members and non-teabagger Republicans.
He could. And we wouldn't have a shutdown. But because he's the worst Speaker of the House in American history, he won't. We cats HISS.