By Mike Brownfield
Just as the Supreme Court has decided to take up the court cases challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, a new Gallup poll shows that the plurality of Americans–including even a plurality of independents–want to see the law repealed. Meanwhile, a new survey by the PwC Health Research Institute shows that health care and the deficit are tied as the second-most important issue in the presidential election, after jobs.
Gallup reports that, “Given a choice, 47% of Americans favor repealing the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while 42% want it kept in place.” Breaking the numbers down by party affiliation, 80 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents, and 21 percent of Democrats are in favor of repealing the law. Among those who want to see it repealed, Gallup says that “66 percent of those favoring its repeal [say] it is very important that Congress take this action."
The Gallup poll follows a report in late October by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that 51 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the law, while only 34 percent see it favorably, marking a “low point in Kaiser polls since the law was passed.” The reason: the decline in support was “driven by waning enthusiasm for the law among Democrats, among whom the share with a favorable view dropped from nearly two-thirds in September to just over half (52%) in October.”
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There is good reason for the opposition and health care’s prominence in the presidential election. In 2011, the price of family health care premiums increased by 9 percent and, according to Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman, Obamacare was responsible for approximately 20 percent of that increase. Those costs will only go higher as other parts of Obamacare are implemented. Heritage’s Kate Nix explains the effect of one such provision:
Obamacare institutes a premium tax on health insurers that offer full coverage beginning in 2014. Before it became law, Heritage expert Edmund Haislmaier wrote that such a tax would increase health care costs, increase taxes, create new inequities, be disingenuous, create perverse incentives, distort the market, and expand federal power.
In a recent study by the consulting firm Oliver Wyman showed that this tax will increase insurance premiums by, on average, 1.9 to 2.3 percent in 2014. The impact will grow with time, reaching 2.8 to 3.7 percent by 2023.
There’s even more to the story behind Obamacare’s unpopularity. This fall, Americans watched as the CLASS Act–the long-term care insurance component of the health care legislation–was put on the back burner as a result of its unsustainable cost, prompting Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to admit that the CLASS program can’t work, despite insisting earlier that it could (in the face of all evidence to the contrary). And since Obamacare was enacted, Americans have seen the federal government grant Obamacare waivers to unions and businesses to avoid loss of existing coverage caused by expensive new insurance requirements.
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The new costs of the law are having a direct impact on America’s job creation. Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, testified before Congress that Obamacare will increase his company’s health care costs by an estimated $18 million per year—a 150 percent increase. That money would otherwise have been used to expand the company and create new jobs.
When Obamacare was enacted, Heritage president Ed Feulner said that, “Instead of empowering families and individuals to make their own choices, Obamacare empowers the bureaucracy to make those decisions for them.” Feulner predicted that though the left would say that the law would be popular with the American people, the realities of the law would turn public opinion in the opposite direction. In his words, ”Americans will not stand for it.” With the costs of health care increasing, the truth about Obamacare becoming more apparent, and opposition to the law growing, he appears to be right.