Obamacare works except when Republicans block it.

Obamacare Is Working Incredibly Well—Except Where Republicans Won’t Let It

Obamacare Is Working Incredibly Well—Except Where Republicans Won’t Let It

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Feb. 24 2015 1:53 PM

Obamacare Is Working Incredibly Well—Except Where Republicans Won’t Let It

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The new Gallup poll gives them a lot more to love.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

As Congress debated the merits of the Affordable Care Act in the months preceding its passage, red state Republicans vigorously insisted that the health insurance law wouldn't work. Five years later, the data is clear: They were sort of right! But only, it turns out, in the states where Republicans won't let it work.

That's the takeaway from Gallup's big new ObamaCare poll, which shows that the law has helped to bring uninsured rates to a historic low—13.8 percent nationally, down 3.5 percentage points from last year. There is, however, a catch. States that complied with ObamaCare's central provisions by setting up a state-run health insurance exchange and expanding Medicaid are doing incredibly well, insuring more residents at record rates. States that refuse to set up their own exchange or expand Medicaid are still reducing uninsured rates—only much more slowly. And, not at all coincidentally, those states that still struggle with a large population of uninsured residents are governed by heavily Republican legislatures that have resisted ObamaCare at every stage. 

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Even this good news, though, arrives with a dark cloud close behind it. In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in King v. Burwell, an astonishingly callous and malicious lawsuit built on lies, fraud, and deceit which seeks to abolish federally facilitated health insurances exchanges in states that haven't set up their own. If King succeeds, roughly 8.2 million Americans will lose their insurance, mostly in those red states that refuse to comply with the law, and 9,800 additional people will die each year. ObamaCare, then, may be mostly succeeding for the time being—but it's only five votes away from strangulation at the hands of a politically motivated court. 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.