(AlterNet) — The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is now in its fourth year, and the numbers point to a solid success. Thanks to Obamacare, millions of people can afford health insurance for the first time, and millions more still have health insurance because now they can’t be dropped by their insurance company for getting sick. The once-astronomical growth of costs has slowed substantially, and in some markets is even decreasing.

The ACA isn’t a perfect solution, but its successes deserve to be celebrated. And they’re especially notable in light of the fact that the law has had to run ( and is still facing) a gauntlet of the most ferocious opposition that’s ever confronted any major piece of legislation: a blizzard of lawsuits, filibusters, attack ads spreading ludicrous scare tactics, lockstep opposition from conservative politicians. Even now, refusenik Republicans are deliberately impeding it by refusing to set up their own state exchanges or expand Medicaid in states they control. The Republicans have tried so hard to make Obamacare fail because its success undermines their creed that government can never accomplish great things or make society a better place to live. As evidence of this, a new talking point has become the conservative refrain: that it should never have been the government’s job to aid the needy at all, and that people should instead turn to private charity, like churches, for help. For example, the Republican senator-elect from Iowa, Joni Ernst, has said:

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