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Americans’ healthy dislike for Obamacare - Pacific Research Institute

Americans’ healthy dislike for Obamacare

Supporters of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul maintained throughout the summer that the law was slowly, but surely, growing in popularity. “The more people understand this bill, the more they are going to like it,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius recently said.

Public opinion data tell a different story. A recent survey from independent pollster Rasmussen Reports finds that 57 percent of likely voters favor repealing Obamacare. That figure hasn’t budged more than six percentage points in either direction since the plan was passed in March.

Any way you slice it, that’s a majority in favor of repeal. The simple truth is that the public doesn’t like Obamacare – and no amount of Democratic messaging is going to change their minds.

Rasmussen isn’t the only pollster to portend bad news for Obamacare’s supporters. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that support for the law fell from 50 percent to 43 percent from July to August. The percentage of the public that said it held an unfavorable view of the law rose 10 points, to 45 percent.

And according to Pollster.com, which tracks and aggregates an array of health care polls, opposition to the law has held steady since May, with an average of just under half the public consistently against it.

Why is the public so down on Obamacare? Its backers claim that the lack of support is simply a failure of messaging. Secretary Sebelius has scoffed at the falling favorable poll numbers, saying that the public has been confused by “misinformation.” The administration, she said, has “a lot of reeducation to do.”

The president’s team might want to start by “reeducating” Democrats like Montana Sen. Max Baucus, who recently told a group of his constituents that they shouldn’t want him to “waste [his] time” reading the health care bill. “We hire experts” for that, he said.

Such remarks betray how the president plans to deal with its public opinion problem: Opposition to the law is unacceptable – and will be fought at any cost.

That’s why the Obama administration and a coalition of its allies have decided to launch a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to sell a skeptical public on the reform effort. They’re also working with several ostensibly nonpartisan foundations and philanthropists to “educate” the public about the law’s purported benefits.

But blitzing the airwaves with cheery propaganda won’t change the substance of the law. Obamacare remains a bloated, bureaucratic mess – and Americans have known it all along.

Some 54 percent believe that the cost of health care will increase under the new law. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office agrees with them. Officials there found that Obamacare would increase individual insurance premiums by 10 percent to 13 percent. For some people – particularly the young and healthy – insurance premiums could triple.

Research from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services further bolsters the American public’s case. An April report from the government agency found that Obamacare would drive national health expenditures $300 billion higher over 10 years than they otherwise would have been.

For many people, health costs have already increased. A survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation recently found that workers are paying 13.7 percent more for their coverage – or $482 more, on average. At the same time, employers are contributing 0.9 percent less toward the cost of their employees’ policies.

Just 14 percent of voters believe that the new health care law will reduce the deficit. Among the skeptics is Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director. He’s calculated that the law will increase the deficit by $500 billion over its first 10 years – and by $1.5 trillion over its second decade.

With figures like these out there, it’s no wonder that several prominent supporters of Obamacare, including several labor unions and AARP, recently instructed their members to stop saying that the law would reduce health care costs and the deficit and to focus on improving it. Never mind that the president explicitly sold his bill as a deficit-reduction tool that would lower health care costs by an average of $2,500 per family.

Obamacare’s consistently miserable public standing has dealt a severe blow to Democrats’ hopes of retaining control of Congress in November. The more Americans learn about the law, the more they dislike it. And no amount of reeducation will change that.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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