Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

November 1, 2013

Obamacare: Mend it, don't end it

Obamacare is under attack. Its website is glitchy, its prices are uneven, and insurance policies that don’t meet its standards are being withdrawn. But President Barack Obama is sticking with it, scolding its Republican critics, and betting that in the long run, he’ll win. He may be right.

Obama’s bet, on a message level, is that the public likes the idea of the Affordable Care Act, even if they’re unhappy with its implementation or some of its features. He’s for something that addresses our health care needs. Republicans, lacking a plausible alternative, offer nothing but obstruction. The law is being implemented. The GOP can’t fight it without, in effect, rolling back coverage and benefits. Changing the law’s details is a popular position. Repealing it isn’t.

Look at the polls. In a CBS News survey taken Oct. 1-2, a majority of Americans — 51 to 43 percent — disapproved of the Affordable Care Act. Only 43 percent, however, said the law went “too far in changing the U.S. health care system.” Thirty percent said the law was about right, and 20 percent said it didn’t go far enough. The plurality supported the law or an extension of it. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken Oct. 7-9, 43 percent of respondents said the law was a bad idea. Only 38 percent called it a good idea. But 50 percent opposed “totally eliminating federal funding” for it, compared with 39 percent who favored cutting off funds.

Twenty-one percent of Americans in a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 12-13 said they’d like major changes to the law. Ninteen percent said they’d like minor changes. But only 29 percent said they’d like the law to be repealed entirely.

— less than the 32 percent who took that position three years ago, and not much more than the 24 percent who said they’d like to keep the law as it is.

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