The General Welfare

By Bill Maher

One big number this week is the result of a new Gallup poll that finds, as the New York Times put it, “Nearly 9 in 10 US Adults Now Have Health Insurance.” This is in contrast to the same poll two years ago, which found the adult insured rate around 80 percent. The biggest changes, it turns out, happened in the Latino community and amongst people earning less than $36,000 per year. In all, 14.75 million people now have insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which, it turns out, has made care… wait for it…. affordable.

So more than 40 years after Richard Nixon proposed resolving our healthcare woes by creating an employer mandate, 30 years after Ronald Reagan screwed up the finances of the existing system with his well-intentioned and humanitarian signing of a bill making hospitals care for the poor and undocumented, 20 years after the Clintons’ legendary Epic Fail, now almost every poor schlub in the land can go get his blood pressure checked and possibly have his life saved by being told to lay off the bacon for a while.

One thing is becoming obvious: It’s going to be increasingly hard for Republicans to run in 2016 on Repealing Every Word of Obamacare. Horror stories only work if they are tales of real horrors or predictions of future horrors. But even what negative stories there are – and there are, naturally, some of those – don’t amount to full-on “horrors.” They generally amount to shifting fiscal burdens or inconvenience, which aren’t great motivators. Nobody sits around campfires and scares kids with tales of how Freddy Krueger will come in the night and make you pay 7 percent more for your premiums or force you to choose a different dermatologist.

Of course, this is all assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t screw it up in June. The Rand Corporation estimates that a negative ruling would result in 9.6 million people instantly losing their health insurance. Which, when you think about it, would be a sweeping victory for absolutely nobody.