If the law is unpopular now, how much more will people hate it when they hear for the first time that they are being forced to buy health insurance, that many of them will not be able to keep the plan they are on now, or that their employer may drop their company health insurance because it’s cheaper to pay the fine?
Those tens of millions of Americans who have not been paying attention are in for the shock of their lifetimes.
February’s Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll puts opposition to the law at 42 percent and support at 36 percent; in Kaiser’s November poll, 43 percent said they supported the law and 39 percent opposed it.
A newly released Reason-Rupe poll offers some confirmation that more Americans hold negative views of the law. Asked an open-ended question about what comes to mind when they hear the term “ObamaCare,” 48 percent gave a negative response of some sort. At 22 percent, the largest single response was a generalized comment that the law is a bad thing.
Overall, the poll shows pessimism about the law. Asked about the law’s impact on the country, meanwhile, 37 percent responded that ObamaCare made the nation worse off, compared to 31 percent who said it made the country better off. Another 24 percent said it made no difference, which suggests a large strain of indifference in addition to the positive and negative reactions.
Since the law passed, Democrats have (not surprisingly) tended to be much more supportive of the law than Republicans. That’s still true, but Kaiser’s poll finds that Democratic support has dropped substantially since last year’s presidential election, from 72 percent in November to 57 percent in the February month’s poll. That’s the second weakest level of support Kaiser has found amongst Democrats since it began the monthly tracking poll in April 2010.
Why did support drop for the law in the months since the election? The parade of news stories about rising health premiums may have had an impact. The Reason poll reports that 26 percent of respondents believe the law will make it harder to afford coverage, compared with just 13 percent who think it will be easier.
In general, the news about ObamaCare has not been particularly encouraging this year. Yes, ObamaCare has successfully enticed several Republican governors into participating in its Medicaid expansion, but a majority of states won’t participate in what is arguably the law’s biggest innovation, the health insurance exchanges. But in the last few weeks, the Government Accountability Office just released a report highlighting the uncertainty about the law’s budget projections, ObamaCare-friendly states have warned about the potential for health premium “rate shock,” and the Congressional Budget Office has expressed skepticism about the law’s implementation prospects. To me, at least, this sounds less like a law that is winning and more like a law is simply surviving.
Looking at all the signs, one begins to wonder if Democrats in Congress won’t want to delay implementation for another year or two. The Obamacare regs released yesterday put off a small business health insurance initiative because of skepticism that the plan could be developed by year end. Might something similar be contemplated for the state exchanges, most of which haven’t even been created yet? And if the exchanges are delayed, it’s hard to see how the rest of the law can be implemented.
Democrats are desperate to make Obamacare work and if it is implemented and chaos develops, the chance for a stampede to repeal the act might overwhelm them. Most of the public is not only unaware of Obamacare’s features, but are also woefully unprepared for what’s going to hit them on January 1, 2014.
Delaying implementation might make good political sense for the Democrats but would the GOP go along with it? The adage “never open your mouth while your enemy is in the process of destroying himself” is good advice for the GOP and their best bet might be to sit back and watch as the voter gets very angry at the Democrats for Obamacare.
Meanwhile, the Act continues to lose whatever support it had when passed. This does not auger well for Obama and the Democrats who are stuck trying to put lipstick on a pig while the rest of the country has a hankering for pork steaks.