The Obama administration made two big admissions about Obamacare this week. First in an interview posted online today with WebMD, Obama conceded that at least some Americans will have to switch doctors under new ACA plans:
For the average person, many folks who don’t have health insurance initially, they’re going to have to make some choices. They might end up having to switch doctors, in part because they’re saving money. But that’s true, you know, if your employer suddenly decides we think this network’s going to give a better deal, we think this is going to help keep premiums lower, you’ve got to use this doctor as opposed to that one or this hospital as opposed to that one.
Second, earlier this week this exchange happened:
“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010,” [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius said in response to a question from Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.).
“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” she said during testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Obama was also hedging his backpedal, noting that “in most states” people will have more than one insurer option and so should be able to find a plan that includes their doctor. But even if both of these hedges prove to be correct—and we have our doubts—the reality of the ACA is still very different from what we were sold. People were supposed to have the ability to keep the plans and the doctors they liked, and premiums were supposed to go down for the average American. Both of these promises remain unmet.
And yet, despite all of this, the law is becoming more and more “entrenched,” both institutionally and in the public consciousness. Bloomberg reports that 64 percent of Americans now either support the ACA or want to see only minor changes to it (h/t Ben Domenech). This speaks to the deep aversion Americans had to the pre-ACA status quo.
The Bloomberg poll does provide one bright spot for Obamacare critics. Though support for repeal is low, 73 percent of those opposed to the law consider it a “major decider” of their vote. Only 33 percent of those who want no changes to the ACA, on the other hand, consider it a major decider. Whether the special election in Florida is repeated throughout the country during the midterms may have more to do with voter turnout than with majority national sentiment on the issue.