August 23, 2013

A number of others have already flagged this anecdote, based on reporting on the ground in Kentucky by Jason Cherkins, but it’s too good not to take note of here:

A middle-aged man in a red golf shirt shuffles up to a small folding table with gold trim, in a booth adorned with a flotilla of helium balloons, where government workers at the Kentucky State Fair are hawking the virtues of Kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange established by Obamacare.

The man is impressed. “This beats Obamacare I hope,” he mutters to one of the workers.

“Do I burst his bubble?” wonders Reina Diaz-Dempsey, overseeing the operation. She doesn’t. If he signs up, it’s a win-win, whether he knows he’s been ensnared by Obamacare or not.

Kevin Drum checked into this Kynect thing, and found:

If you go to the Kynect website, you can look far and wide and never get a clue that it has anything at all to do with Obamacare or ACA or even the federal government. “kynect is here to help you find the right coverage,” the fact sheet says cheerily. “It’s a new kind of health insurance marketplace — convenient and easy to use. With one application, kynect will check your eligibility for programs that can help you pay for health insurance for yourself, your family or your employees.”

Clever!

Beyond this one anecdote, this goes to what Jonathan Bernstein has been predicting for some time now: Many Americans may come to like the benefits in the law without even associating it with the Kenyan Muslim Marxist IRS-army-unleashing government takeover plot they know they hate.

But there’s another angle worth considering here. It has mostly passed with little attention, but the Wall Street Journal recently reported that insurance companies are set to spend as much as $1 billion on ads wooing new customers shopping on the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act. Those ads will represent a huge campaign that can only help get the word out about the benefits of the law, and it’s a safe bet those ads won’t mention the word “Obamacare.”

All this comes as we’re entering a phase that really could tip the balance towards Obamacare in a way that hasn’t been possible before. As Steve Benen notes:

When they vote several dozen times to repeal the reform law, GOP lawmakers assume they’ll pay no political price. But the more Americans take advantage of the law, the more voters will balk at a Republican crusade that undermines families’ health care security — whether “Obamacare” polls well or not.

Yes. The basic situation may soon be that opponents of the ACA will be stuck making political arguments voters have been hearing for years, in hopes that they overwhelm emerging facts about the law and people’s actual experience of its benefits. It’s always possible there will be serious implementation problems, and that negative experiences of the law could worsen perceptions of it. But the basic political trajectory here — benefits are set to kick in just as Obamacare’s opponents are resorting to the most destructive tactics yet, in the quest to take coverage away from millions, dividing the GOP in the process — clearly offers grounds for optimism.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.