Positive Sentiment for the Affordable Care Act is Growing

By on August 7, 2012

The Rasmussen Report, a conservative-leaning polling group, released its latest polling numbers yesterday on the public support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s centerpiece domestic accomplishment. It discloses 50% of Americans favor “somewhat” repeal of the bill. That’s not good, except that it is the lowest number since the group began polling on this topic, down from 63% on May 23. In addition 44% now fully support it, the highest number in the same time frame.

Republicans reacted to the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the reform measure by vowing a fight to the death, pushing through yet another vote to repeal in the House, knowing it would go nowhere in the Senate. But clearly they felt fired up at the time and spoiling for a winning fight. Lately calls for repeal of so-called Obamacare have become muted. This may explain why.

Immediately after the ruling, there was a bump up in public support for the ACA (the so-called Roberts Effect), though ACA has never had outright majority support. Since then states have issued refund checks to subscribers whose insurance companies failed to get their administrative overhead below the required 10%. Tie this to growing amount of contentment with extending coverage to young adults 24 to 26 under their parents’ plans, guaranteeing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, expanded women’s’ health coverage, reducing the number of medical bankruptcies and you see why reform nay-sayers may be waging a losing battle here.

What we would like to see now from Rasmussen (and others) are more positive polls telling us how many Americans actually think they understand the complicated bill, and, if they do, what parts of the bill they now would like to see repealed and what should be kept. Agreement there will get harder to achieve as more people find benefits in ACA for themselves. Oddly seniors remain the largest group to be convinced.  This echoes the growth in public support for Medicare which the Republicans tried to brand as Socialized Medicine certain to ruin American Medicine in the late 1960’s. Add to that the fact that insurance companies will be writing more policies thanks to the individual mandate and it is entirely possible that by November support for ACA may turn around.

All this should not obscure the fact that further work on reform is still needed, work that addresses cost issues. That must come soon. There are measures in ACA like slashing Medicare Advantage programs (Medicare Part D) that will cut costs, but these alone will not be nearly enough to address the growing cost crisis. If we could finally retire the delusion about repealing the entire 2010 Act as a quick fix, and set about improving it, we will get much closer to the real health care reform that this country desperately needs.

That may require giving people like Michelle Bachmann and Charles Grassley “movie money’ to stay out of the debate — borrowing a phrase from my dating years detailing an approach to young siblings on nights when you wished to focus on your ‘prospects’ at home. We will be asking tough questions then that require tough answers, and a ‘coloring book’ approach to the problem will be out-of-place.


Tom Godfrey

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