Posted by: Jeff | November 4, 2010

Repealing Health Care Harder Than GOP Voters Think

Two quick links that highlight the difficulty ahead if Republicans choose to pursue their electoral promises to repeal all or part of health care reform:

First, Johnathan Cohn on the increasing popularity of reform among voters as time goes forward:

For the last few weeks, polls have consistently shown that between 40 and 50 percent of Americans answer “yes” when pollsters ask about repeal. But the numbers change when the pollsters ask follow-up questions.

The individual features of reform, like prohibitions on denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or helping seniors pay for prescription drugs, remain wildly popular. When you tell people that repeal would mean giving up these features, as it necessarily would, support for repeal falls. In a recent CBS/New York Times poll, the proportion of respondents favoring repeal fell from 41 to 25 percent.

This is heartening for proponents of the reform bill – as more of the reform package is implemented, the favorable numbers for reform itself go up.  This is a case of Americans not really knowing what all reform entails – opposition based on mere opposition to a symbol of Obama’s legislative agenda will fade over time, as the benefits of reform become more and more clear.  During this election cycle, Republicans and their allies spent millions of dollars ginning up support for repeal – no such energy was spent on reform’s defense on the left.  With a little pushback, one would expect support for repeal to start falling.

Second, Steve Pizer and Austin Frakt argue that even among GOP corporate and interest group allies, reform is more popular than one might think:

The Republican base hates health reform because it’s a symbol of Obama. They think it’s a product of the far left, when in fact it’s chock full of Republican  ideas. … When the new Republican House majority starts legislating on health care, they will be more concerned with what the relevant interest groups want. The insurance industry, hospitals, and drug companies want looser regulation and lower taxes. That is, the big players want what they always want–more control over implementation and establishment of favorable regulations–even if it’s at the expense of a more efficient health system for the rest of us. But they also want the mandate, which can’t work without the subsidies and insurance reforms. The [Affordable Care Act] began as a moderate Republican reform proposal for a reason: with respect to the fundamental structure of the law, the interest group politics work pretty well. We doubt the House leadership will do anything to alienate the insurers, drug companies, or hospitals. Put it this way, if those interest groups didn’t want health reform of the form we got, they would have killed it last winter, if not before. They didn’t. So the mandate and overall structure of the ACA are safe.

If support for repeal continues to fall among voters and corporate donors alike, Republicans face a long road toward reversing reform.



  1. […] After reading The New Millennial yesterday, I can only assume that presumptive Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell realized the uphill battle he would face if he set aim on repealing health care reform. […]

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