Republicans in competitive Congressional races are spending less on political ads attacking the Affordable Care Act and are shifting their attention to other, more pressing economic issues, Bloomberg News reports.
In North Carolina, for instance, anti-Obamacare ads accounted for 54 percent of all spots in April, but fell to 27 percent by July, as budget, government spending, and other concerns dominated political ads. Similar patterns bear out in Louisiana and Arkansas, where the health care reform went from dominating all of the spots in April to representing just 41 percent and 23 percent of the top five issue ads, respectively.
Pollsters attribute the shift to a multitude of factors: the emergence of other local or national concerns, voter indifference to the law, or the sense that repeal is highly improbable. But as more people gain and use their Obamacare coverage, the anti-Obamacare ads may soon give way to another reality: the law is working and benefiting the very constituents Republicans are trying to court in the 2014 election cycle. Though the effectiveness of Obamacare implementation varies across the country, a quick snapshot of the law’s progress in the aforementioned states — areas where Senate Democrats are locked in tight re-election bids — shows that the law is delivering identifiable benefits:
357,584 signed up for coverage the the federal exchange; 73,898 were determined to be eligible for Medicaid coverage. According to WalletHub, North Carolina’s uninsurance rate dropped by 2.96 percent from 19.64 percent to 16.68 percent.
In June, UnitedHealthcare announced that it will become the third major health insurer to sell policies in the exchange, potentially increasing choice and competition for 2015. A study of preliminary rate filings predicts an average premium increase of 10.8 percent for 2015.
43,446 signed up for coverage through the federal exchange; 63,465 were determined to be eligible for Medicaid coverage. According to Gallup, “the rate of people without health insurance fell from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent in mid-2014.”
Arkansas dominated by a single health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, “creating limited competition in most parts of the state,” a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report found. However, a study of preliminary rate filings predicts an average premium increase for 2015 of 11.7 percent.
101,778 Louisiana residents signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, but most of those enrollees already had coverage. According to one survey, “the percentage of uninsured in Louisiana dropped from 22.41 percent to 20.91 percent. That still leaves more than one of every five residents in the state with no insurance.”
A study of preliminary rate filings predicts an average premium increase for 2015 of 11.7 percent.
Anti-Obamacare ads may make a comeback as more states release premiums for 2015, though the initial filings have fallen short of opponents’ doomsday predictions, with some states even reporting average decreases in premiums. Should that pattern continue, health care reform may finally subside as a top political campaign issue.