How Not To Pass A National Health Care Program: New Poll Shows Almost Half of Americans Want The Repeal of the Health Care Law

One of the most interesting aspects of the litigation over health care has been the Obama Administration’s push for review in the Supreme Court. Rather than slow walking the case, the Administration facilitated a review that will result in a ruling before the election. As on many other decisions by this White House, the political calculation seems counterintuitive. I have said in interviews that I do not know which will be worse politically: for the Administration to lose before the Court or to win. Now a poll suggests it might be the latter. Gallop found this week that 47 percent of Americans want to see the law repealed. Only 43 percent favor the law. Fifty-six percent still prefer the use of private insurance over a federal insurance program. This poll joins the sobering fact that a majority of states are now in court in an unprecedented opposition to the federal law. Regardless of how you feel about health care, this is not how you pass a major new program and is the result of the decision by the White House and Democratic leaders to muscle through this vote on the thinnest of margins.

When I spoke to members and staff about the then proposed legislation, I warned that there would be significant problems over federalism — concerns that I share with critics. While I predicted that the Administration would have the advantage in the lower courts due to existing case law, it would trigger a historic fight over the scope of federal jurisdiction. I strongly encouraged a change in the law that would have defused the federalism issue by allowing the states to opt in or opt out of the programs (though at the risk of losing federal health care funds). I heard from both Democratic members and staff that they agreed with the change. However, when Kennedy died, neither the White House nor the Democratic leaders were willing to return to the Senate with changes. Instead, they forced through the vote and barely secured passage. While it would have been a bruising fight, I am convinced that critical parts of the law would have passed in better shape. More importantly, correcting the individual mandate provision would have avoided a serious court challenge.

FDR refused to ask for a declaration of war in World War II until he secured an overwhelming level of support from the public and Congress. He knew that any great venture required such support. The same is true with the largest social program in the history of this country. It is not something that you muscle through Congress on a thin vote. The Administration not only effectively doomed some members in their failed reelection, but it created the perfect wedge issue for the GOP. It is now in court fighting a majority of states and, according to this poll, almost a majority of citizens Moreover, there is general agreement that the law was badly written and rushed through with few members actually reading it. Many of these problems were apparent before passage, particularly the poor crafting of provisions. What is so maddening is that Obama and Pelosi knew that this bill was not ready in either drafting or in the level of support needed for a sustainable campaign among the states and ultimately in the courts.

None of this concerns the merits of national health care. I support national health care. It is a question of how not what we do. If Democrats wanted to make this the defining issue, they should have insisted on a better vehicle and handling of the issue in Congress. Both President Obama and then Speaker Nancy Pelosi share in this ill-conceived strategy.

The court strategy appears a continuation of the same political calculus. It is like a variation of the Strangelove strategy, or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Health Care.” It does not appear to be working. It is the culmination of one of the least logical political and legal strategies that I have seen emerge from a White House . . . (due to the instigation of the White House itself) it will ultimately culminate right before the election.

Source: Reuters

16 thoughts on “How Not To Pass A National Health Care Program: New Poll Shows Almost Half of Americans Want The Repeal of the Health Care Law”

  1. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama say they believe in giving Americans universal health care. I don’t believe them. Anyone who takes the time to understand universal health care should conclude that only a simple single payer system will reform the current outrageous system that benefits the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.
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  2. It’s either an incredibly dumb move on the Administration’s part or brilliant. A lot of people are going to be very unhappy if the mandate to use private insurance is let stand. It is IMO outrageous and many people feel that way. (I’m a universal coverage/Medicare-for-all plan with an overhaul to get for-profit insurers out of parts B, C, and D also.) That doesn’t mean Obama would lose more votes on the left than he’s already lost.

    On the other hand the current plan is going to help a lot of people, millions of people who have been waiting for its implementation. If the current plan is overturned those people are going to be very angry and as the Republicans take a victory lap for having it struck down they will be painting a bulls-eye on their party for 2012.

    Those millions of people that need the new plan could become the President’s/Democratic Partys new base, and he needs a new base because he’s lost a bunch of his old base.

    I may just be overthinking it though. I’ve been wrong just about every time I ascribed actual strategic thinking to this administration instead of just assuming they were puling it out of their hat as need would arise. 🙂

  3. The polling data are flawed because the vast majority of the public have no idea what’s in the ACA and they actually like it when they know what’s in it. The administration has failed miserably in informing the public and the major media outlets failed to provide any useful information before or after the wrangling in Congress.

  4. “Gallop found this week that 47 percent of Americans want to see the law repealed. Only 43 percent favor the law. Fifty-six percent still prefer the use of private insurance over a federal insurance program.”
    I do not believe this for a second. What did they find was the reason for this flipflop? Perhaps they are only polling the 1%…

  5. This isn’t a health care bill, it’s a health insurance company give away–read the fine print!

    There are many good analysis of this bill to show what it will actually do. It is not there to help the people. National, universal health care, which we could have had simply by extending medicare to all, was taken off the table by none other than BHO himself. Why was that? Who told him they didn’t want that done?

  6. A great many people have already obtained better coverage thanks to this imperfect law and as time goes on even more will benefit.

  7. I agree that Prof Turley’s objections are valid in many respects. Personally, I am very grateful for the passage of the bill since my wife now has health insurance that we can afford. I think that the idea was to get something passed and then make modifications as experience showed the need tor changes. Just as it was with the stimulus, all economists said that it was not enough, but I guess Obama thought he could pass another one later on when it became clear that another one was needed. He gambled, and lost. One can only do what is politically possible at the time, and there will always be those who say that things should have been different.

  8. Lest we forget the same “almost half” of the country votes Republican. The fact is that more than half don’t want repeal. That’s a majority still favoring the bill over the Republicans’ objections and months of unanswered battering by the GOP presidential candidates . The GOP can’t filibuster that majority to say that it takes 60% to keep the law.

  9. Risk management of all sorts, of which health care is but one, which are to succeed must generally follow the notion of priorities.

    The remedy for the greatest waste of public and private monies would be better served by resort to a priority system.

    Not to mention the assist to national security it would also bring along.

    Health care is without doubt a national priority, but it is about third from the top on the list of critical priority needs.

  10. Agree with rafflaw and Frankly. The healthcare law has helped a lot of unemployed young people stay on their parent’s health insurance.

  11. The only reason why the states have filed suit is for political reasons. When you ask people about the individual components of the bill, they are in favor of them. Would I have preferred a single payer system, yes, but the Republicans and blue dog Dems would not have voted for it and would have filibustered it.

  12. The problem is that the need for health care coverage is desperate and the demand for the government to do something about it was very high – just as it was in 1992 when Clinton was elected. As soon as something was proposed the powers that be went to work on it with all the tools of propaganda at their (very wealthy) disposal. And that is working – most people can’t tell you what the heck is in the bill yet they hate it. The whole debate is divorced from reality or fact.

    ACA is in fact almost identical to the Republican counter proposal from 1992’s effort. So why did all the Republicans vote against it? Because it might be seen as a success for the Democratic President & he must be made to look bad no matter what.

    Elephant Uber Alles – America be damned!

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