If Obama knows what's good for him, he'll use this health care coup to woo back his most ardent supporters. But will it be enough?
Thus far, the fight over "Obamacare" has been mostly over a hypothetical law—most provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act don't go into effect until 2014. But one major element took effect right away: the ability for parents to insure their kids under 26. The Obama administration and other private researchers estimated earlier this year that about 1 million previously uninsured Americans ages 19-25 had gained coverage under this part of the plan. They were wrong: It's 2.5 million.
I'm not surprised that 20-somethings have taken advantage of this policy. My friends and I have all gone through long stretches of being uninsured since college because of unemployment, low-wage jobs without benefits, or fleeting contract positions. Still, it's heartening news. It's also significant for President Obama's upcoming campaign. The Pew Research Center recently found that although millennials remain Obama's biggest supporters, they're less enthused about him than they were in 2008. And fewer young people care about politics than they did back then— the percentage of millennials who say they care a good deal about who wins the White House has dropped from 81 to 69 percent since October 2007.
The administration knows this, and they'll no doubt tout the health care law's accomplishment in order to woo back Obama's most ardent supporters. Will it work? It's certainly a start, but it's not enough. Obama hasn't done much to put the youngest generation (or any generation) to work. Legislation helping millennials, like the DREAM Act, has died in Congress. Young women needing Plan B were screwed over last week when the health department undermined the FDA decision to stock the pill on drugstore shelves. Insuring 2.5 million young people will perk up our ears, but Obama's going to have to do a lot more to win back our hearts.