A recent CNN/ORC International poll illustrates how attitudes on health reform have evolved over a few short years. As of May, 43 percent of Americans favor the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). And, 35 percent oppose it as too liberal. But, another 16 percent oppose it because it is not liberal enough, a fact you do not hear about very often.
Over the last three years, public opinion has been shifting increasingly toward the more liberal end of the spectrum. In 2010, only 39 percent favored the law, with 43 percent saying it was too liberal and 13 percent saying it was not liberal enough.
What concerns me is that parts of the media have twisted and distorted these facts when communicating with the public. According to the lead paragraph of the CNN website "politicalticker" recently:
"A majority of Americans still oppose the nation's new health care measure, three years after it became law, according to a new survey." Technically true, but very misleading. I am in the 13 percent who believe that Medicare for All is a better solution, but that does not mean that I believe what we have had in the past is better than the ACA.
The story goes on to say: "43 percent of the public says it supports the health care law, a figure that's mostly unchanged in CNN polling since the measure was passed."
Talk about misleading journalism coming from one of our most trusted sources. Now, 59 percent of people are either in favor of the ACA or want it to be more progressive, compared to only 52 percent who felt that way in 2010. As opposed to what CNN states, statistically that is a very significant change in only three years. The real question should be "Why hasn't support grown even faster for the ACA or a more progressive option?"
Most folks have absolutely no idea what is in the ACA, given that the law has not been fully implemented and is widely misunderstood. In fact, many do not even know what "ACA" stands for at all. They just know "Obamacare" as a derogatory term because, coached by Frank Lenz and other brilliant GOP messaging gurus, opponents have said it so much in order to tarnish the President. And, I believe that this is illustrative of one of the biggest problems now facing the ACA.
Due to the overwhelming complexity of the law itself, mainstream media commentators and elected officials are hesitant to clarify the ACA to the public by stating the facts. At the same time, right wing talk show hosts and politicians, some of whom certainly must know better, rail on continually (and incorrectly) about Obamacare being socialism, killing people and destroying our way of life. These conservative extremists care little for the facts; they prey on emotion and fear.
As someone who is trying to be objective and explain the ACA to the everyday family oriented working person who does not have the time to read academic treatises, here is my simplified take on a few select aspects of the law that seem to be the most misunderstood. The ACA: