When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
In the first 18 days from the Nov. 1 launch of this year’s sign-up period, about 2.28 million Americans had enrolled on the federal exchange for health care plans in 2018. That number includes the 39 states that did not set up their own exchanges — residents here can go to the Washington Health Benefit Exchange — and represents a sharp increase over last year’s enrollment rate.
All of this comes despite efforts by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to scuttle the Affordable Care Act — colloquially known as Obamacare. And it signals to those critics the need to improve the act rather drive it to its grave.
The administration this year slashed the advertising budget for the federal exchange by 90 percent while also shortening the enrollment period. Judging by the number of people who have sought the accessible, affordable and subsidized plans available on the federal exchange, that strategy has not worked; the fact is that Obamacare provides a much-needed and much-desired service for millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have added a provision to their tax-cut proposal that would eliminate an individual mandate requiring Americans to carry health insurance or pay a tax. This provision helps ensure that healthy people sign up for health care and funds subsidies for low-income citizens who otherwise would not be able to afford insurance.