During the Friday episode of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, co-host Renee Montagne stated that the past several days had been “a charged week at the Capitol,” which led fellow co-host David Greene to declare: “Still, ObamaCare rolled out as planned.”
Millions of people have shopped for insurance on the new marketplaces called exchanges since opening day on Tuesday, they noted. Officials said it was evidence of high interest. However, others have criticized the fumbling start, which involved computer glitches and errors, saying the Affordable Care Act “was not ready for prime time.”
The hosts then introduced NPR's Mara Liasson and Molly Ball of the Atlantic, to get their view of Obamacare's debut last Tuesday and through the rest of the week.
Liasson began by stating that the GOP is largely responsible for the current crisis, a theme she would return to several times during the discussion.
Obamacare is at the heart of the current crisis in national politics -- the standoff over the shutdown and the debt ceiling and where Republicans have been demanding a series of changes in the law in return for reopening the government or for raising the debt ceiling.
“So all of the political attention is over that fight, over the deep divisions within the Republican Party, over the drama of how House speaker John Boehner will or won't get himself out of the political straitjacket he's put himself in,” she added.
And I think that's really overwhelmed the politics of the Obamacare launch. And that is politically a net negative for the Republican opponents of the law because the glitches probably got less attention than they otherwise would have.
When asked to describe the programs impact on the states, Ball said that “the federal government, at least in the initial stages, pays 100 percent of the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare and initially, most Republican governors resisted that and said that it was too much of a federal encroachment.”
What we're finding now is those Republican governors who are up for re-election this year and are in states that voted for Obama are almost all choosing to take that Medicaid expansion, take what's essentially free money for the federal government to help cover more of the poor, uninsured in their states.
Apparently unaware that "free money" from the government is generated by taxes paid by average Americans, Ball then referred to such GOP governors as Chris Christie in New Jersey, who's up for re-election this year; Rick Snyder in Michigan, who “sort of muscled this through a Republican legislature;” and John Kasich in Ohio, whom she said is actually campaigning very hard to get his GOP legislature to accept this Medicaid expansion.
And these governors' approval ratings have largely increased since they have embraced this one aspect of ObamaCare.
The writer for The Atlantic then pointed out one of the conflicting aspects of ObamaCare.
Something that Democrats have consistently had angst about with this law is that many individual parts of it are popular. So it's harder when you are talking about the politics of individual parts of the law than when you're just talking ObamaCare overall, which remains unpopular.
Liasson then discussed the funding of the program by addressing two questions.
“Will enough young, healthy people sign up for the system?” she asked. “And like any insurance system, that will only work if they do.”
But Liasson stated that the second question is more important politically.” If people with health insurance lose their coverage and are forced to go on the exchanges or their coverage gets less generous or more expensive, do they blame that on ObamaCare?”
Montagne then asked her guests if there was any precedent for a major program going into effect “at the same time the U.S. government is in the sort of churning, chaotic state that is because of protests against that program?”
Ball responded that she was not aware of any direct precedent, but she stated that “the reason we've come to this point” is because "Obamacare is going into effect, and the opponents of the law see this as their last opportunity to derail it.”
Liasson replied that “more and more Republicans are realizing that a government shutdown, a possible debt default is not going to get them where they want.”
Joel Pollack of the Breitbart.com website noted that the interview did not point out some of the serious flaws Obamacare has, including the fact that San Diego's KUSI news reported that California -- the flagship for the entire program -- had enrolled no new patients.
Another sign that the rollout was not “as planned” was the fact that not one person in Kansas -- the home to secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius -- signed up for insurance through the exchanges on the first day of the launch.