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ACA Agonistes
Polls Reveal a Muddled Middle On Health Care

We now have the best big-picture view of public attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act—and it may disappoint both supporters and opponents of the law. Researchers at Harvard University have published a review of 27 different opinion polls about the Affordable Care Act conducted by 14 different organizations. Here’s one feature teased out by the study, as reported in a Washington Post story on the research:

Most voters say they’re less likely to vote for a congressional candidate supporting the health-care law (40 percent), compared to those who are more likely to (31 percent), according to a September HSPH–Social Science Research Solutions poll. There was naturally a partisan split here, but more Republicans said they were less likely to vote for a candidate supporting the ACA (69 percent) than Democrats said they were more likely to vote for a candidate supporting the ACA (60 percent). About one in four voters said the ACA won’t factor into their vote at all.

Overall, it appears that the public still cares about health care as an issue, even in the upcoming senate elections, but cares about it less than the economy more generally. They don’t like the ACA, but they don’t want it repealed either. This environment clears the ground for candidates who can criticize the law as a whole but don’t favor repeal of all its provisions—someone, for example, like Ohio Governor John Kasich, whose continued popularity seems to bear out this interpretation. Kasich is a Republican who claims to oppose the ACA, yet who also vigorously defends his decision to expand Medicaid in his state.

To conservatives and liberals alike, Kasich’s stance on the ACA is nothing but blathering incoherence, and opportunistic at that. And yet, that muddled middle position may reflect exactly where the electorate stands at the moment, and what they wish to see in their politicians.

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  • vepxistqaosani

    Perhaps we should wait to judge the ACA until the Obama (or some successor) administration finally allows all the law’s provisions to take effect.

    • MartyH

      Agreed. Assuming the R’s take the Senate, they should pass an Obamacare time limit. Either the law is enforced in its entirety by, say, Oct 1 2016, or those provisions that are not enforced are voided. Politically, I’d think it would be a tough bill to veto-or even vote against..

      • Boritz

        I like this idea, sort of, but the problem is it dignifies this whole lawless, ad hoc implementation.

        • MartyH

          The path to returning to a nation of laws begins with clear, well written, easily enforceable. Consider the alternative-Obamacare’s implementation will depend not on the text of the law that was passed in 2010 but on the whim of whoever the current President is..

      • Andrew Allison

        Why not enforce it in it’s entirety with immediate effect and fix the problems rather than continuing the charade for another two years.

  • FriendlyGoat

    It’s not very sensible (for us) for Republicans to be elected for all OTHER issues by being “opportunistic” on the ACA with “blathering incoherence”. Citizens maybe can be forgiven for not fully understanding all the intricacies and trade-offs in health insurance, but the BIGGER issue they are suffering from is the “blathering incoherence” being perpetually peddled that tax cuts create livable jobs.

  • Richard Resnick

    Kasich is so popular in Ohio not on his own merits but because his Democrat challenger this year imploded in scandal and bad behavior. With a viable challenge from the Democrats Kasich would likely still have prevailed but it would have been a much closer election.

  • ljgude

    As an American observing this schlimazel from a safe distance in Australia I don’t think the public’s thinking is muddled at all. They know healthcare reform is needed and they know the ACA is a terrible law. Here is the problem: US healthcare costs are double the OECD average and many people have no coverage. Think of the cost of US healthcare as a river flooded to double its usual height. It has happened slowly so the levees have been built up so it is contained – at least for those with insurance. Then the ACA comes along and pumps huge amounts of water onto the wrong side of the levee! Instead of doing what all those OECD countries have done and put money into the public side of healthcare to extend it to all citizens the ACA tried to cover everyone by subsidizing premiums. The law itself caps healthcare spending to 17.5% of GDP by 2017. We went into the ACA at 16% of GDP. That levee ain’t gonna hold. While Medicare itself needs reform, Hillary’s proposed extension of Medicare to the general populations in the 90s was a much better approach and what I suspect a president Hillary might still do if she is elected in 2016. Even better she will probably have to accomplish it with hordes of little Republican helpers in the house and perhaps the Senate.The mind boggles at the prospect. I suspect repeal is a non starter simply because the whole insurance system has been seriously disrupted and changed – not mention all the new relationships between insurers and providers. If we can’t go back, which, in my opinion. the public correctly doesn’t want, we have come up with real reform or proceed to failure.

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