One year ago today President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. At the time it was signed, the American public was fairly evenly split on the law. Most polls showed a little over half the public against passage with slightly less than half favoring the measure. However, the same polls showed that some “opposed” to the law actually disfavored it because they did not feel it went far enough. A number of liberals refused to support the law after the public option and other progressive measures were taken out. One year later, polls show that the public continues to hate the bill, while simultaneously loving certain aspects of the legislation.
CNN released a poll showing that similar to last year 59% of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act with 37% supporting the law. Yet, once again, the CNN poll found that a significant percentage (13) of those opposed to the law actually oppose it because they want it to go further. Adding the numbers together, 50% of Americans either support the current law or want it to be more progressive, while 46% oppose the law because they feel as though it goes too far. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll provides similar results. Kaiser’s poll found that 51% of the public would either like to “expand” the law or “keep it as is.” Approximately 21% of Americans favor a wholesale repeal of the law, and another 18% want the bill repealed and replaced with a Republican alternative.
Kaiser’s poll also found various aspects of the Affordable Care Act very popular and very unpopular. The most popular parts of the bill included:
- Preventing insurance companies from excluding customers who have pre-existing conditions (74% approve)
- Closing the Medicare prescription drugs “Donut hole” (76% approve)
- Increasing Medicare payroll taxes on the wealthiest Americans (58% approve)
- Tax credits to small businesses to encourage coverage (82% approve)
The one unpopular part of the legislation was the individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health care insurance (Just 27% approve). Ironically, the individual mandate is tied to part of the law which keeps companies from excluding on the basis of pre-existing conditions. Without the individual mandate, customers could presumably wait until they get sick and then purchase the best insurance policy they can find.
As is often the case, the American public essentially wants to not only eat their cake, but also not pay for it. Americans love the benefits from the Affordable Care Act, but hate the one punitive part of the law which mandates individual health coverage.