For the first time, not even a majority think the uninsured will be better off as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. Only 49 percent of Americans think the uninsured will be better off as a result the new law. This is a huge drop since right after the law was past last April when 67 percent thought the law would make the uninsured better off.
The decline in the number who think the law will help the insurance is understandable because the further we get from the debate, fewer people remember what is in the law. For instance, in April 2010 64 percent knew the law would expand Medicaid, but now only 49 percent are aware of that fact.
This change in perception will be a real political hindrance for Democrats, especially President Obama. The health care law is still one of Obama biggest “accomplishments” of his first term and one of the Democrats’ main selling points for the law was that it will make the lives of the uninsured better by getting them insurance. If not even a majority believe the law will actually fulfill its primary goal, it makes the Democrats who passed it look incompetent in the eyes of the electorate.
This is a perfect example of how in political rhetoric, wonky policy debates and talking points are not nearly as important as what people can see and feel. Since the coverage expansion parts of the ACA were delayed until 2014, the uninsured haven’t received much help yet, so regular people have stopped thinking the law will help the uninsured, they’ve stopped believing the law will work.
The decision by Democrats to unnecessarily delay all the coverage expansion provisions for four years will be remembered as one of the most idiotic unforced errors by a political party in recent memory.
(data for graph from Kaiser Family Foundation)