Obamacare Is More Popular Than Ever. Not Sure Why, Though

Illustration for article titled Obamacare Is More Popular Than Ever. Not Sure Why, Though
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It has been 10 years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into legislation. Given the amount of bitching that’s been done around the law over the last decade you would think it was a deeply unpopular policy. Turns out, that’s not the case at all.


NBC News released a poll that shows more voters find the law to be good than not. While the poll was split between party lines because America is going to America, the findings overall tracked in favor of the legislation.

From NBC News:

Forty-two percent of all registered voters believe the law is a good idea, compared to 35 percent who think it’s a bad idea, while 23 percent don’t have an opinion. The difference between good idea and bad idea — plus-7 points — is as high as it has been since the NBC News/WSJ poll began tracking the legislation more than 10 years ago.

It’s weird that a law that provides affordable healthcare to those who need it has had so much controversy surrounding it. You would think a majority Christian country would be all for taking care of thy fellow man. I mean personally, I’d rather my tax dollars go towards helping folks stay healthy than towards the ever-expanding military-industrial complex but hey, we didn’t all play Metal Gear Solid growing up.

I can only imagine the law’s popularity will increase in the upcoming years due to the, uh, situation at hand. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of the law later this year. This came after the Senate’s 2017 tax overhaul removed the individual mandate in the legislation that would fine anyone who didn’t have insurance. GOP-led states then filed lawsuits claiming the law was now unconstitutional, continuing their long-held belief that if you want to be in good health, then you best be willing to go into insurmountable debt for it.

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I would love to read an analysis of the psychology of resisting universal healthcare. I suspect a lot of it has to do with our aspirational culture and the decades-long campaign to dismantle the federal government post Civil Rights.

I remember “Health Security” Bill Clinton’s universal healthcare plan. “America to fix a health care system that is badly broken. Giving every American health security, health care that’s always there, health care that can never be taken away.” Universal Healthcare was as popular as it is today. Democrats were winning races running on healthcare reform. They talked about how the financing of health care had become a working and middle-class issue and working poor. The dramatic increases in health care costs, as employers shifted expenses onto covered workers, and the fear of losing employer-based health care benefits. Inflation, corporate downsizing, and the loss of manufacturing and construction jobs in the West and Northeast were some of the ills of the early Nineties US economy.

The Clinton plan was not single-payer; it resembled the ACA; the principal mechanism was the mandatory purchasing cooperative. One or more of these national alliances would be established in each state and would have all sorts of revenue-channeling, data-collecting, information-dispersing, and legal powers concerning employers, insurers, and citizens. Enrollment in employer-based plans would be required, and subsidies provided for those who could not afford insurance. The program also specified which benefits must be offered, established a National Health Board, comprehensive coverage including long term care and abortion, and antitrust reform. The GOP, libertarian groups, AMA, health care lobby, pharmaceutical companies, Christian groups, right-wing radio, small business organizations teamed up to Thanos snap Health Security as a take over of the welfare state.

Obama understood that the lengthy task force set up to draft the details of Health Security gave Republicans time to erode public support. Six months into his presidency, he introduced HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care Act. It barely passed the House 220 - 215 with only one Republican joining the votes Pelosi whipped up. Ted Kennedy’s passing leads to the election of Scott Brown, who ran against the ACA and ended the supermajority of 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass the bill into law. Hence, they use budget reconciliation, which only requires 51 votes in favor to get it on Obama’s desk for signature. After only securing 40 votes, Democrats drop the public option. The Senate’s version of the ACA is approved by the House 219-212. The Democrats go on to, as Obama described, get “shellacked” in the midterms and lose both chambers in Congress crippling the remainder of Obama’s presidency.

Universal healthcare has long been the siren’s song for Democrats. In 1935 Franklin Roosevelt wanted to add health coverage to the Social Security Act but failed due to opposition. When Truman picked it up, the AMA helped to kill the plan. Ted Kennedy debuted his first national health insurance plan in 1971. The architects of Medicare never intended it to have limits; it was popular until costs increased due to enrollment. Trying to reform the healthcare system destroyed HRC’s popularity and hobbled Obama’s presidency. Yet Democrats persist.

I’m not surprised that the ACA is more popular now because more people are insured. It’s harder to take something away than it is to give. Nor am I surprised that M4A popularity in polls does not bear out in elections; they haven’t seen a pathway. Freedom is our marrow. Opponents to universal healthcare understand the culturally how to exploit the “consent to be governed” from The Declaration of Independence to Americans. Antithetical arguments about the government do not further the goal of nationalizing healthcare. Why would anyone trust the government with their lives if it is irredeemably corrupt? Republican control of the voting booths and ending addiction to consumerism are the barriers to change. Which one is the strategy, and which one is the goal?

The ACA is popular because uninsured rate is at a record low. Increases in annual check-ups, treatment for chronic care and the number of people with a personal physician and yet the Republicans are trying to dismantle it. Democrats should be builidng off its popularity like Obama built off of the ideas of those who came before him.