Greg Sargent (his emphasis)
Let’s face it, the spin war over initial low enrollment figures just doesn’t matter that much. Because the story here is the same as it always was: All that matters is whether the policy works in the long run.Yes, and yes. And he's also correct that the best play for the administration is to be as open about the statistics involved as possible.
If it does, then all of the spin of the moment — low enrollment proves the law is in total collapse! Red state Dems are fleeing the wreckage wholesale! — will be forgotten entirely, and Republicans will have to readjust to a political landscape in which the law is working for lots and lots of people. If it doesn’t — if the website doesn’t work in the new year, or if enrollment figures remain too low over time, causing the exchanges to collapse – then all bets will be off anyway.
I'm mostly still sticking with what I said a while ago, which is that ultimately the web site problems won't destroy the program. They certainly could cause a lot of disruption, though; Brian Beutler points out that if it really is impossible to enroll at the same time that current plans are discontinued, then that's an enormous problem mostly separate from all the hype about "keep your plan," and it's a problem with no real obvious solution. Other than, you know, to get the damn program working.
And, yes, as Sarah Kliff says today, what's important is who signs up as much as it is how many.
But regardless: the law is here, it's being implemented, half a million people have signed up for Medicaid, young adults are on their parents' plans, the donut hole is disappearing and other Medicare benefits have begun, lifetime and yearly caps and rescissions are gone...all of that is going to be very, very, difficult to displace. So when Greg says -- and I agree -- what matters is whether ACA works or not, what it matters to is the next wave of reform and change. Repeal? No, we're never going back to the status quo ante.
Spin over first-month signups, meanwhile, won't affect any of that.