According to a new Gallup poll Americans are pretty much split evenly on whether or not we should repeal the new healthcare law. But as with any other government program, Americans are only against it in the abstract. Americans hate the mandate, largely because it’s called a mandate, but love parts of the bill that end pre-existing condition clauses. Of course, you can’t really have a system of private insurance that allows anybody to get a plan at any time without a mandate, so we’re stuck with the good and the bad.
The healthcare law is a mixed bag. It doesn’t go as far as many wanted it to go – something like single payer, preferably. It changes rather than expands the role of government in providing access to healthcare. It’s inefficient in some ways; in other ways it improves upon the status quo. One thing that sort of irks me about it is how politics forces us to make do with something as ad hoc as all of this. We have Medicaid – administered by the states – and Medicare – administered by the federal government – and now the ACA – administered by the states – and rather than just save tons of money and increase efficiencies enormously by combining all these programs into one federal healthcare program, we have to leave this expensive patchwork in place and then just build upon it (and the patchwork is much worse once you think about how the private insurance system is designed, and the entrenched inefficiencies baked into healthcare writ large including hideously opaque prices…)
In any case, take away the parts that people dislike about the bill and of course people suddenly love it. Talk about it being struck down, and most Americans still imagine that their favorite parts will remain.
If you took away all the fearmongering surrounding the bill, they’d probably be fine with it also. But a steady diet of death panels and threats about tax-hikes has everyone much more frightened than they would otherwise be about a bill that basically just opens up non-employer-based insurance exchanges so that people have just a tiny bit more access to reliable healthcare than they did before. It’s neither a panacea or a government take over. It’s just sort of a step in the right direction and a step in the wrong direction all at the same time, and better – certainly – than doing nothing.
The ACA hurts Obama in swing states, even if people like the bill in pieces; but as James Joyner notes, if Romney gets the GOP nod it may be a moot point anyways.