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A new poll just out from Fox News reports that 58 percent of Americans - the highest number ever recorded - would rather see ObamaCare repealed than let it stay in place.
The results are encouraging, but not altogether surprising. In the wake of the numerous media statements by Jonathan Gruber, who played a key role in the law’s development, Americans feel insulted, duped, and lied to about the Affordable Care Act. Gruber’s comments reveal the sense of contempt, both for democracy and transparency, that led a Democratic Congress to demand the law be passed without even knowing what was in it. The poll shows that 49 percent of people think the administration intentionally lied about the law, a number which rises sharply if you restrict the poll to independents or Republicans.
But if Gruber has turned ObamaCare into a PR nightmare, that’s far from the only thing that’s damaging the law’s reputation among voters. ObamaCare has been in full effect for nearly a year now, and its fruits are beginning to become clear. Far from being affordable, the insurance plans offered under the ObamaCare exchanges have had higher premiums, higher deductibles, and rapidly rising penalties for those who decline to purchase a plan.
Of those polled, only 14 percent claim to be better off under ObamaCare, while twice as many - 28 percent - say they are worse off.
Supporters of ObamaCare argue that that law has resulted in more people having insurance coverage, and that it has slowed the growth of health care spending. But this analysis is easily rebutted if we look at the full picture instead of cherry picking statistics. First, it’s rather unimpressive to brag that legally forcing people to buy insurance has resulted in more people buying insurance. This observation ignores the fact that these plans are of generally higher cost and worse quality than the ones Obama promised wouldn’t be cancelled.
Regarding the growth of health care spending, there are two salient points. The first is quite simple: health care spending is still growing, despite promises that the Affordable Care Act would have the opposite effect. Second, and more importantly, all evidence indicates that ObamaCare is not causing, and may in fact be hindering, the slowing of health care spending.
In a wonderfully thorough analysis for Forbes, health care specialist John C. Goodman shows there has been no spending trend since the passage of ObamaCare, and that the long run trend of decreased spending growth started under over a decade ago with the availability of health savings accounts. Allowing patients to exert more personal control over their health care spending naturally leads to less of it, as they are more willing to shop around for the best deals available, and less likely to spend money on trivial complaints.
With the law’s major claims to success debunked, the smug condescension of Gruber and Co., and the real pain that many American families are now experiencing, it’s easy to understand why a majority are ready to repeal ObamaCare altogether. Republicans just need to do their job and offer a credible, free market alternative for health care reform. With any luck, 2015 will be a year of bold leadership and fresh ideas from the new Congress.