Today is the day that the Republican leadership in the House will take up their attempt at repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or as they like to call it, “Obama Care.” If you listen to their rhetoric you will hear them say that this was the reason they won back the House in November. That an overwhelming number of Americans are opposed to the new law and that it is their job to enforce the “will of the people.” Well, apparently the will of the people has shifted under their feet now that some of the provisions of this health care reform law are coming to pass.
Ahead of a vote on repeal in the GOP-led House this week, strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in AP-GfK surveys dating to September 2009.
The nation is divided over the law, but the strength and intensity of the opposition appear diminished. The law expands coverage to more than 30 million uninsured, and would require, for the first time, that most people in the United States carry health insurance.
The poll finds that 40 percent of those surveyed said they support the law, while 41 percent oppose it. Just after the November congressional elections, opposition stood at 47 percent and support was 38 percent.
As for repeal, only about one in four say they want to do away with the law completely. Among Republicans support for repeal has dropped sharply, from 61 percent after the elections to 49 percent now.
In the wake of that poll the Obama Administration is set to release today new findings that show up to half of the American population under the age of 65 can be defined as having a preexisting condition that would either prevent them from receiving health coverage or drastically increase their cost in the open market.
The study found that one-fifth to one-half of non-elderly people in the United States have ailments that trigger rejection or higher prices in the individual insurance market. They range from cancer to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.
The smaller estimate, by Health and Human Services Department researchers, is based on the number of Americans whose medical problems would make them eligible for states’ high-risk pools – special coverage for people denied insurance because of their medical history. The researchers arrived at the larger figure by adding in other ailments that major insurers consider a basis to charge customers higher prices or to exclude coverage for some of the care they need.
Using those two definitions, the study took 2008 findings, the most recent available, from a large federal survey of medical expenditures to figure out how many people had reported that they were bothered by those health problems, had visited a doctor for them or had been at least temporarily disabled because of them.
It will be interesting to see how the Republicans frame this debate now that they have signed on to toning down the rhetoric on death panels and the supposed job killing nature of the reform. Argued on the facts neither of these assertions hold water. The CBO has clearly shown that this health care law will in fact reduce the deficit by $143 million over the next nine years. Couple that with the fact that many of the 43 million American’s who were without health coverage are now on the rolls, particularly children, I don’t see how support for this act of political theater will do anything other than drop even more.