Over the next seven years, Republicans would vote again and again to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Total and permanent opposition to the law would become the absolute touchstone of Republican loyalty. Even Donald Trump, who dissented from so much of the old orthodoxy, retained this piece of the doxology. On the strength of their vow to eliminate the ACA, Republicans would win election after election, culminating in the stunning capture of all the elected branches of government in November 2016. From time to time, some old veteran would recall my 2010 prediction that the law would endure and smilingly wonder if I wished to reconsider.
I never did, for the reasons that the whole world has witnessed in real time over this week of Obamacare’s 7th anniversary.
In that third week in March in 2010, America committed itself for the first time to the principle of universal (or near universal) health-care coverage. That principle has had seven years to work its way into American life and into the public sense of right and wrong. It’s not yet unanimously accepted. But it’s accepted by enough voters—and especially by enough Republican voters—to render impossible the seven-year Republican vision of removing that coverage from those who have gained it under the Affordable Care Act. Paul Ryan still upholds the right of Americans to “choose” to go uninsured if they cannot afford to pay the cost of their insurance on their own. His country no longer agrees.
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