The best part of the Affordable Care Act is, not coincidentally, the part that does the most to make health care affordable to a large group of Americans – namely, the expansion of Medicaid.

We’ve just seen the latest proof of this in the January 2014 numbers for the economy, which despite the effects of winter cold and storms in the East and crop-killing drought and heat in the West, managed to be a bit better for most Americans than expected, largely because of the Medicaid expansion:

While not exceptional, the gains were significant: a 0.4 percent rise in consumer spending ($45.2 billion) and a 0.3 percent rise in personal incomes (up $43.9 billion), according to new figures released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth came in spite of the expiration of unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed and all that horrible winter weather.

Imagine how much more money all Americans could have if programs like Medicare and Medicaid applied to everyone. Well, you don’t have to imagine it — just look at places like Canada and Germany and the UK and France, places that unlike the US still have thriving middle classes.