What Happened to Health Care Reform?

The Affordable Care Act, dubbed “Obama Care” by its detractors, has become the most controversial piece of legislation of the Obama administration.


Now its fate rests with the Supreme Court, which could strike down part or the entire law.


A recent CNN poll reported 50% of Americans disapprove of the law, while 45% supported it.


This was not always the case.


A Rasmussen poll taken in late June of 2009 found 51% of respondents favored the law, while 45% opposed it. Support quickly faded, however.  By September, the polls showed more people opposed the law than favored it.


So what happened?


Prior to the law’s passage in March of 2010, a large majority of American’s supported the need to reform the health care system.  In a Kaiser Health Care Tracking Poll conducted in June of 2009, 61% of the respondents believed it was necessary to reform the health care system immediately.


But the public had one important requirement.   They wanted a bipartisan bill.


An October 2009 Quinnipiac Poll reported 57% of the public did not want Congress to pass a health care bill without the support of both parties of Congress.


This didn’t happen.  The bill passed, but support of both parties did not happen.


With a Democratic House and Senate, and a Democratic President in the White House, the administration was able to get a bill passed despite the strong opposition of Republicans.


Democrats believed once the American public understood the bill they would come to support it.


There was justification for this belief.   A November 2010 Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found a large majority of Americans liked many of the features of the law, even though roughly half of those surveyed favored repeal.


There were other warning sings beyond the need for bipartisan support, which indicated it would not be smooth sailing for the supporters of the Affordable Care Act.


When asked whether they were willing to pay more to increase the number of Americans with health insurance, 54% of respondents in the June 2009 Kaiser Tracking Poll said no.


Robert Blendon, Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, may have had the most insightful observation.  In a New York Times article dated September 5, 2009, Professor Blendon explained the public’s support for the Affordable Care Act followed a similar pattern to the one experienced by the Truman and Clinton administrations when they tried to reform the health care system.  Initially, Americans supported the ideas proposed but disillusionment quickly set in.  As Profession Blendon explained, the American public “distrusted the government and public support fell substantially as the debate wore on.”


Maybe if the Administration had achieved the bipartisan support it sought things would have turned out differently.  Now we must wait for the Supreme Court to make its decision.

3 Responses to What Happened to Health Care Reform?

  1. Maybe those of us who work are tired of carrying all of those people who could legitimately work and provide their own health care expenses. The working force of Americans are asked to carry more and more for those who are unwilling to work and it’s obvious (by your poll numbers) that we’ve had enough. The government needs to find the right plan for a better working health care system and stop trying to force us to accept one that is so obviously flawed. Stop providing free health care to Illegal immigrants for a start and take care of only legal Americans that truly need it.

  2. Debbie,
    Your ignorance about the law is evident. It does not provide free care to illegal immigrants. What it does is offer subsidies so that working Americans who cannot afford insurance are able to get it. Did you know that you have to make enough money so that your income is at least 300% of the Federal Poverty Level in order to afford insurance if your employer doesn’t cover it? The law sets limits on how much insurance companies can raise rates. It stops insurance companies from being allowed to deny someone because they are or have been sick. Please take time to understand the law before repeating ignorance you’ve heard someone else say.

  3. Unfortunately, so many companies hire employees part-time to save money. These American’s work hard, sometimes two jobs to get by. Since the companies they work for don’t provide insurance, and the price for self paid insurance is so outrageous, millions of hard-working American’s go with out adequate health care. The Accountable Care Act is not perfect, but our health care system is worse than many 3rd world countries. If you can get better health care in Cuba, something is wrong here.

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