Friday, February 8, 2013

$5.7 Billion Reasons Obamacare Is Repeal-proof

Has anyone noticed how the Republican party has fallen almost entirely silent on the issue of repealing healthcare reform?  USA Today notes that the ACA -- Obamacare -- has saved seniors $5.7 Billion on prescription drugs since it went into effect.  The following paragraph does a great job of pointing out why this is important [emphasis added].
In 2012, seniors saved $2.5 billion on prescriptions, compared to $2.3 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services. That's an average of $706 per person in 2012.
$706 per person.  For seniors on a fixed income, $706 is pretty significant but ignore the feel-good aspect of helping old people with their medicine for a moment and look at this politically.

Population by age in the United States (2010)
The image at right is a population pyramid - it's a visual representation of the relative sizes of various age groups in the United States in 2010.  There are a few trends that should jump out at you but the biggest and most obvious one is how the entire graph just explodes between ages sixty and forty-five.
Those are the baby boomers and they're about to retire.
It's an axiom in American politics that the elderly are among the most politically active people in the country and as a result, programs that benefit them are almost impossible to cut or limit.  Politicians fear the AARP because, while it may not be able to sling around money like the NRA can, it can deploy an army of adorable grandmothers to knock on doors and petition voters.
Therein lies the brilliance of tying the Medicare prescription drug benefit to the Affordable Care Act.  By the time Obama leaves office in 2017 the baby-boom generation will already be enrolled in Medicare and will already be drawing benefits.  Repealing the healthcare reform law at that point will be tantamount to political suicide as it will drive up healthcare costs for the most politically active demographic in the electorate by nearly $1000 a year.
No one in the GOP will admit it, but the fight over the ACA is over.  It ended on election night last November.  With Mitt Romney's candidacy went any hope the GOP had of "repeal and replace."

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