Running on Health Care

A significant part of the Affordable Care Act’s unpopularity had less to do with the law itself, and everything to do with its contested status. With Democrats unhappy and Republicans furious, voters saw the law as something controversial and potentially terrible. As such, the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the law was an important signal to low-information voters; it communicated a certain amount of legitimacy, which—as we saw at the beginning of this week—translated to increased support for the bill. According to a poll from CNN, for example, support for Obamacare increased to 50 percent after the Court’s ruling. Likewise, a Reuters/Ipsos poll saw support increase to 48 percent of the public, up from 43 percent.

I argued last week that this is an opportunity for the administration to resell the bill as something that will help the average American, and it seems that they’ve taken my advice [1]:

Before a cheering crowd of several hundred at a rally in northwestern Ohio, Obama declared that the healthcare law was alive and well and highlighted elements that have proved popular with the public — even as the overall law has not. […]

“We will not go back to the days when insurance companies could discriminate against people just because they were sick,” he said. "We’re not going to tell 6 million young people who are now on their parents’ health insurance plans that suddenly they don’t have health insurance. We’re not going to allow Medicare to be turned into a voucher system.

“Nobody should go bankrupt because they get sick. I’ll work with anybody who wants to work with me to continue to improve our healthcare system and our healthcare laws. But the law I passed is here to stay.”

Now that the Affordable Care Act is part of the status quo, Obama should focus on presenting its provisions as something people will lose if they elect Mitt Romney. The public is eager to hold onto benefits, and will support politicians who promise to protect them. Obama is well-positioned to use that dynamic for political gain. Emphasizing the extent to which Obamacare will provide insurance—or protect it—is a winning strategy.

  1. Not really.  ↩



Absolutely right.

And when you hear a Tea Partier howling, "Tax, Tax, Tax", pivot:

You're not taxed; you're covered!

There no tax if you are covered. And the Affordable Care Act makes comprehensive coverage affordable for all Americans.

Pre-existing condition? No problem.

Employee of small business? No problem.

Starting your own new business? No problem.

Average income? No problem.

Minimum wage income? No problem.

Want to retire, but not old enough for Medicare? No problem.

An American who needs health insurance? No problem.

A network of health care trades, sites that basically serve as online areas for health insurance created under the Affordable Care act, is intended to be online by fall of 2013. The states are supposed to create them, but those that do not will get a federal one pushed on them. Anyone with insurance through an employer is out, as is anyone old enough to qualify for Medicare. Employers with fewer than 100 employees can also shop for insurance through the exchanges. However, they will be able to log on, browse available plans and purchase the health care plan they want.

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