Affordable Care Act: A big success

By Bill Kaplan

Bill Kaplan was a guest columnist with the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 - 2009.

This blog originally appeared at

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a big success despite the GOP-led House's attempting ad infinitum (more than 50 votes) to blowup or repeal the law. Moreover, some GOP govs., including Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, have blocked Medicaid expansion and/or establishment of state-run exchanges to sell private health insurance with generous federal tax credits. And, there have been frivolous lawsuits supported by congressional Republicans. New York Times columnist Timothy Egan said: "They will not legislate. But they will litigate." Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is a leading obstructionist. However, a Bush appointed federal judge threw out Johnson's lawsuit. Wisconsin federal Judge William Griesbach, who ruled on Johnson's case, said: "disputes between the executive and legislative branches over the extent of their respective powers are to be resolved through the political process, not by decisions issued by federal judges."

All the hysteria, lies and "Washington shenanigans" (Kaiser Family Foundation) can't deny the following:

  • More than 8 million Americans, including nearly 140,000 Wisconsinites, bought private health insurance, (most) with federal tax credits on the exchanges;
  • About 3 million more Americans under 26, including thousands of Wisconsinites, are covered under their parents' plans, thanks to Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and the ACA;
  • 6.7 million other Americans have been enrolled in Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (Gov. Walker turned down Medicaid expansion with 100 percent federal funding, threw nearly 63,000 Wisconsinites off Medicaid while enrolling 97,500 others under the non-ACA Medicaid program with a federal match of only 59 percent);
  • The Commonwealth Fund, Gallup, New England Journal of Medicine and Urban Institute report that millions of previously uninsured now have health insurance because of the ACA. But last week a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. (2-1) struck down part of the ACA, saying that tax credits under the ACA can only be given to those enrolled in state-run exchanges as opposed to the federal exchange. A few hours later a panel of another U.S. Court of Appeals (3-0) upheld the section in question. Tax credits will continue to be available while litigation goes forward. Most legal experts think that the first ruling will likely be overturned and the ACA section upheld.

Meanwhile, despite Sen. Baldwin's best efforts, Walker did little to help enroll the nearly 63,000 (he threw off Medicaid) into private plans on the federal exchange. Later he fessed up - only 18,801 got private insurance. Moreover, Walker still wants to repeal the ACA. It's time for Walker to face reality. The ACA is here to stay. He ought to join other GOP govs. who are expanding Medicaid and/or setting up state-run exchanges. Enough "shenanigans".

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