The public still doesn’t like Obamacare and still doesn’t like President Obama’s handling of health care in general.
The latest Fox News poll (one of many with similar results) tells us:
While a 54-percent majority would repeal the law, 41 percent would keep it in place. That’s mostly unchanged from two years ago, when 56 percent said they would cancel it and 39 percent wanted the law to remain (January 2011).
On the law itself views are divided along partisan lines. By a 48 percentage-point margin, most Democrats favor keeping Obamacare (72-24 percent), while Republicans favor repealing it by an even wider 77-point margin (87-10 percent).
Independents also favor repeal, but by a narrower 16-point margin (53-37 percent).
Voters give President Obama negative ratings on health care. By a 10-point margin, more disapprove (53 percent) than approve (43 percent) of his job performance. That’s the lowest rating he’s received on health care since his 13-point negative rating in December 2011 (42-55 percent).
In part the rotten ratings may reflect the sense voters have that Obama doesn’t comprehend how many problems have shown up and how disruptive Obamacare has already been, despite his claims that those with insurance have gotten all the goodies and just “don’t know it.”
Among those flaws are the spike in insurance costs, the impact on the debt (not stripped of the unworkable CLASS Act that was designed to offset Obamacare costs), the shift to part-time work (and, the Los Angeles Times reports, reduction in part-time hours), the slow rate of new job creation and the uncertainty related to employers dumping their own insurance. That doesn’t include the impact Medicaid expansion is having on state budgets, the new tax for upper income taxpayers, the medical device tax (which Senate Democrats want to repeal), the cuts in Medicare advantage and the infringement on religious faith via the HHS mandate on birth control and abortion-inducing drugs.
Obama’s health care law was designed to expand access to the uninsured. It’s a noble goal, if not necessarily a smart political priority. (It’s more popular to advocate for improved health care, not expanded access.) But to win support for the law, Obama claimed it would lower costs, improve the quality of care and not force anyone off their current health care plan. That’s not shaping up to be the case. Premiums are rising, employer uncertainty is growing and voters aren’t viewing the law favorably – with many not even aware of the frontloaded benefits already in place. And even on the access side, the law of unintended consequences is kicking in: Some large retail companies are cutting back employee hours so they won’t have to offer health insurance. That’s not good for the economy or health care access.
Is the president unaware of the raft of unintended consequences or does he just think voters are?
Democrats are not so oblivious. In fact, they are verging on panic. Right now they are worried about the roll out. But the implementation, and resulting confusion, isn’t really the nub of the problem, although Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was honest enough to admit that in and of itself will be a “train wreck.” The onset of the most disruptive elements of Obamacare is the beginning not the end of the problems. All of these adverse consequences, and those no one has thought of yet, are inevitable when you attempt to regulate, centralize and micromanage health care for 300 million people. By its very nature, a mammoth new entitlement, unpaid for and imposing a host of new taxes, is going to be problematic in the extreme.
Republicans are doing a good job explaining the adverse consequences of the law, but they need to do a better job making the case that the basic premise of the plan is inherently unworkable. To do that they will need to offer a far simpler, market-based health-care plan in which consumers can afford the insurance they want to buy. That was the purpose all along, right?