The Affordable Care Act has seen two mildly hopeful signs lately. First, though every recent poll has found that the public is unhappy with Obama and the ACA, Obama’s losses don’t seem to be translating into GOP gains. Take, for example, the latest WaPo-ABC News poll, whose key findings are summarized here:
The poll shows just 34 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s implementation of the health-care law, while 62 percent disapprove — including 50 percent who say they “strongly” disapprove. Pretty bad, right?But when you ask people whether they would rather see Obama or the GOP in charge of that implementation, 42 percent pick Obama, while 37 percent pick Republicans. That’s actually the biggest advantage Obama has had on that question since 2010 — marginally bigger than the narrow three-point difference for Obama in September, before the botched rollout.
Other polls using different metrics that have showed the same basic thing. One can only speculate, but it seems that the public’s preference for the Affordable Care Act over what existed before is strong enough to keep the law limping along through all its recent controversies. As long as the public does not believe the GOP has a credible and unified approach to health care policy, its likely to continue registering both disapproval of the law and hesitations to hand the reigns over to the GOP.The second piece of news is that a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation hints that the worries about rates of enrollment by “young invincibles” may be overblown. It’s more or less been the consensus on both sides of the ACA debate that unless a high percentage of currently uninsured healthy young Americans opt into the exchanges, the law could face serious financial problems. But the Kaiser study argues that it’s healthy people more generally and not just young people that matter. According to the study, even if only half of the millennials the administration currently excepts to sign up actually do sign up, the effect on premiums will be small.This is only one study, of course. But given how worried people have been about a millennial-induced death spiral, this report is likely to make a collective sigh of relief rise from the District. And if it’s accurate, the Kaiser study could be good news for the Obama administration.