Slipping Away - The Missourian: Editorials

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Slipping Away

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Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 6:32 pm

As implementation looms, two new polls show that most Americans don’t understand Obamacare and even people who don’t have insurance believe the law won’t do them much good.

According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 44 percent of respondents call the health care law a bad idea, while 31 percent believe it’s a good idea and 25 percent say they’re not sure.

Those numbers are virtually unchanged from earlier polls. But, by a 45 percent to 23 percent margin, respondents said they believed Obamacare will have a negative impact on the country’s health care system rather than a positive one.

Another poll from USA Today and the Pew Research Center finds 53 percent of people disapprove of Obamacare and President Obama’s approach to health care policy, a record high on both questions.

The survey also found Republicans have gained a slight but telling edge on health care issues generally.

Both of these polls show that more people have a less favorable opinion of the health care reform bill. This is not good news for the Obama administration.

The uncertainty and skepticism over Obamacare was inevitable. Anything as massive and unwieldy as the Affordable Care Act was bound to be difficult to comprehend much less implement.

But the findings, which come just two weeks before Obamacare’s new insurance marketplaces open for enrollment, demonstrate what a poor job the president has done in explaining and selling the law. He has allowed Republicans to define the bill and ultimately shape public opinion.

This is the case even though Republicans have failed to offer a credible alternative solution to his plan.

Confusion isn’t the only factor shaping public opinion on the new health care law. Many Americans are just now starting to discover that their health care premiums are going to rise — in some cases dramatically — under Obamacare as the costs of providing coverage to more of the uninsured is absorbed by those with insurance.

With public opinion for Obamacare slipping, Congress is gearing up for yet another run to overturn the law during the next fiscal battle to fund the government. If the president doesn’t move swiftly to take control of the health care debate, his signature legislation could prove to be his Waterloo.

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