“The law Tim has embraced is fatally flawed and goes way in the direction of government regulation and taxes,” O’Bannon said.
Wendy Klein, an internist and retired Virginia Commonwealth University medical professor, likes the law. So she’s for Kaine, a Democrat.
“Governor Allen would dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and I believe that governor Kaine would try to support it,” she said. “And I support him. It’s that simple.”
But the choice is not a simple one for every Virginian — nor for the candidates themselves, who have some nuance to their positions. Allen wants to help repeal the law while preserving a couple of its most popular provisions; Kaine wants to hang on to the heart of the legislation but fix certain aspects of it. Because the health-care law is so complex, and because it has not been fully implemented, some voters aren’t sure whether they want it to stay or go. That’s true even for those who are immersed in health-care policy in their professional lives.
“I’ve been doing this job for 30 years; I have never had a time in my life when I’ve been less clear about what we should do,” said Katharine Webb, senior vice president for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
The Affordable Care Act has been a highly polarizing law, one that conservatives see as outrageous government overreach and liberals consider long-overdue reform. But the tiny slice of the electorate still up for grabs in this deadlocked Senate race may have a more muddled take on the law — most of which won’t roll out until January 2014.
“We’re in this in-between world where neither the full cost of the burdens nor the potential benefits from expanded coverage — neither of those has arrived in full strength,” said Tom Miller, a health-policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute who lives in Northern Virginia. “Everybody gets to impart their worst fears or their best dreams.”
Jennifer Duffy puts herself in the muddled middle, even though she follows the law closely as an analyst for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report and also happens to oversee health benefits at her tiny firm. In that second role, she has been constantly surprised as various provisions of the law have kicked in. Such as when she discovered her company does not qualify for a small-business tax credit because its payroll is too large.
“We’re a company of five people,” she said. “When I told [editor and publisher] Charlie [Cook] that, he was floored.
. . .
I think that there are a decent number of voters who are still very skeptical of this, and don’t fully understand it, and know that there’s sort of more to come, and they’re not sure what to expect.”