California is a particularly important test for Obamacare. It’s not just the largest state in the nation. It’s also one of the states most committed to implementing Obamacare effectively. Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — remember how that really happened? — California was the first state to begin building its insurance exchanges. The state’s outreach efforts are unparalleled. Its insurance regulators are working hard to bring in good plans and make sure they’re playing fair. If California can’t make the law work, perhaps no one can. But if California can make the law work, it shows that others can, too.
Obamacare is as much a story about the future of the Democratic Party as it is a story about the future of US health care. Democrats have been nervous for some time now about the impact Obamacare will have on their reelection prospects. These numbers will give them some breathing room. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear champagne corks popping all over Capitol Hill today.But it’s important to remember that we won’t know for a while which way Obamacare will break. It still has many stages of implementation to go through, and at this point predictions of its success are as premature as predictions of its failure. As we get closer to the major deadlines—especially January 1st, 2014, when several provisions will go into effect—the on-the-ground impact of Obamacare will become clearer. We’ll be watching.