Friday, March 23, 2012

ObamaCare Slow to Gain Favor in Public Opinion

Gallup reported on ObamaCare's weak public support a couple of weeks ago: "Americans Divided on Repeal of 2010 Healthcare Law."

Less than half of all Americans support the law, and a large majority of Republicans favor repeal.

The numbers are interesting if we recall that Democrats argued that support for the law would increase as Americans began to experience the benefits. Well, that's not happening. See the Wall Street Journal, "Health Law Slow to Win Favor: Some Provisions Stumble in Practice" (click through at Google):
When the health-care overhaul became law after a bitter debate, many Democrats predicted Americans would grow to like it as they started enjoying some of the early benefits.

The day after the president signed the bill into law, which happened exactly two years ago, an average of major polls collated by the website Real Clear Politics showed 50.4% of Americans opposed. This week, that had changed only by a tenth of a percentage point, ticking up to 50.5%.

The health law remains a tough sell for reasons that go beyond the drumbeat from Republicans for its repeal and questions about its constitutionality that will be debated next week at the Supreme Court. Several of the law's early pieces, designed to win public support, haven't worked as well in the real world as on paper and have irked even some of the Americans they were designed to help.

Some elements have been a success. An estimated 2.5 million young adults have gained coverage from the provision saying children can stay on their parents' plan until they turn 26, and Medicare beneficiaries have saved on prescription drug costs.

But, among some other less-successful provisions, an insurance plan designed to help the sick and uninsured before the full impact of the law kicks in has drawn only a fraction of the expected participants, because of high premiums and strict enrollment rules. Some states have already burned through federal cash allotted to them as costs have come in higher than anticipated.

Francee Levin, a 59-year-old artist in Columbia, S.C., said in March 2010 that she thought the law would be a "godsend." Injuries from being hit by a drunken driver had left her unable to find coverage. But when Ms. Levin looked into South Carolina's version of the plan, she decided she couldn't afford the premiums of $650 a month.

She rolled the dice and remained uninsured. Last month, just after Ms. Levin had given a class at a middle school, her heart suddenly stopped and had to be restarted with a defibrillator. Early bills from her two-week stay in the hospital, including helicopter transportation and six days on life support, top $10,000.

Another piece of the law that seemed like a winner—eliminating co-payments for preventive health services—spawned a religious battle over contraception coverage that has turned some Catholic leaders against the Obama administration. That happened after an advisory body deemed contraception preventive care.

The law's curbs on how severely insurers can limit annual claims payouts sparked a backlash, with the administration giving 1,231 employers and insurers waivers after some companies threatened to drop coverage altogether.

In addition, federal officials halted the creation of a long-term-care insurance program several months ago after deeming it financially unsustainable.

President Barack Obama doesn't plan to tout the law publicly on Friday, the second anniversary of his signing the bill. A senior administration official said his involvement politicizes the matter, which makes it all but impossible to change negative public opinion about the law.
Be sure to read it all.