While Republicans were throwing their silly tantrum, Obamacare became a fact. There is no turning back.
The point of no return was reached when millions of people crashed the websites of the new Affordable Care Act exchanges trying to buy health insurance. Republicans can fight rear-guard battles if they want, but last Tuesday they lost the war. All they can do at this point is harm the nation — and their own political prospects.
Someday, if the GOP captures the presidency and both houses of Congress, President Barack Obama's health care law could be altered or even repealed. But it would be replaced by some new program that does the same thing, because there is no politically viable way to snatch away the medical insurance that customers are buying through the exchanges.
Quite the opposite: As soon as the glitches are cleared up and everyone becomes a bit less hysterical, the question will be how to obtain coverage for as many as 30 million people who will still be uninsured — including about 8 million ineligible for Obamacare because of a sabotage campaign by Republican governors.
Look at Texas, which the state medical association calls “the uninsured capital of the United States.” An estimated 22.5 percent of the population lacks health insurance, a higher percentage than in any other state. Many will remain uninsured because Gov. Rick Perry — a once and perhaps future GOP candidate for president — refused to set up a state insurance exchange and turned down billions in federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage.
Rejection of Obamacare may be popular in Texas now. But demographic trends are making the Lone Star State's electorate more diverse, as the Latino population grows, and less reliably Republican. Small businesses that cannot afford to offer health insurance may soon worry about losing employees to states offering better coverage for the working poor through local exchanges and expanded Medicaid. Time is on the side of those who want to expand coverage, not those who want to restrict it.