As Health Reform Goes Into Effect, Support Rises Dramatically

I'm a couple of days short in reporting this story, and give credit to The Gavel, Speaker Pelosi's blog for turning me onto this news.  A recent poll has shown that the support for health reform passed earlier this reform has risen seven points in a single month.

The Numbers: The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new poll, showing the favorability of health care reform has risen dramatically over June, now standing at 48%, compared to 41% who have an unfavorable view of health reform.  What's more, about 12 of that 41% (that's 30% of those who have an unfavorable view) believe that the law should not be repealed but given a chance to work, with Congress making fixes along the way.  This number makes me think very much that a good deal of this 12% (of those surveyed) are those who wanted stronger, not weaker, reforms.  Only a quarter of Americans think that the law should be repealed.  Of those who want to repeal the bill, only 15% see health care as the most important issue in November, whereas among those who have a favorable opinion of health care, 19% view health care as the most important issue.

As always, the individual parts of the reform remain wildly popular among all Americans, even if the right wing noise machine's constant complaint about "takeover" doesn't let the whole law's view rise that far.  As The Gavel points out, in that poll:
  • 87% support health insurance exchanges – including 94% of Democrats, 88% of Independents and 77% of Republicans.
  • 82% support giving tax credits to small businesses – including 89% of Democrats, 79% of Independents and 79% of Republicans.
  • 81% support gradually closing the Medicare prescription drug donut hole – including 96% of Democrats, 77% of Independents and 71% of Republicans.
  • 78% support high risk pools for individuals with pre-existing conditions – including 85% of Democrats, 78% of Independents and 67% of Republicans.
  • 76% support subsidy assistance for individuals – including 90% of Democrats, 73% of Independents and 63% of Republicans.
  • 71% support extending dependent coverage to children up to age 26 – including 84% of Democrats, 72% of Independents and 54% of Republicans.
  • 69% support expanding Medicaid – including 80% of Democrats, 71% of Independents and 54% of Republicans.
  • 69% support federal review of health insurance premium increases – including 83% of Democrats, 69% of Independents and 53% of Republicans.
  • 65% support ending gender rating – including 75% of Democrats, 69% of Independents and 60% of Republicans.
  • 64% support eliminating caps on lifetime benefits – including 67% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 57% of Republicans.
As for impact of the health care vote among voters, it's a wash.  35% say a vote for health reform will make them more likely to vote for a member of Congress, compared to 32% who say such a vote will make them less likely.  But Democrats support reform much more heavily, with 57% of Democrats saying a vote for reform will make them more likely to vote for someone, compared to only 8% say it will make them less likely.

What Explains the Rise in Support: In other words, if this poll is to be believed, the public sentiment has swung decidedly in favor of the health reform and against repealing it that Congress and the President enacted earlier this year.  But why?  Aside from the fact that it is objectively good reform, what is making the favorability of this law inch up despite the right wing noise machine's constant damnation of it?  Well, the reform is starting to go into effect.  It's starting to have real impact on the lives of real people.
  • Due to regulators acting promptly, health insurance rate increases are being rescinded in places like California (WellPoint, Aetna), New Mexico, Washington, DC and so forth, proving that government regulation and oversight can be effective.
  • Thursday, July 1, the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP), or the federal high risk pool program went into effect.
  • Applications are now being accepted from employers for the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program that will help early retirees keep their employer provided health insurance by subsidizing employers who do the right thing by their employees and retirees.
  • Small business tax credits for health insurance of up to 35% are in effect right now, this year.
  • The Patients' Bill of Rights under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 has been issued.  Among other things, it forbids lifetime benefit caps, puts strict medical loss ratio requirements in place, and moves to strengthen oversight of insurance premium increases.
  • has been launched to give consumers easy access to information about their insurance, or the ability to shop for coverage.  Most don't realize this, but this is due to PPACA.
Those are just some of the things already being implemented.  For a list of reforms that will become reality this year (and also for lists of things for the following years), see here.

The bottom line is that support is rising because reform is working.  I have always said that this is significant reform, and it will help countless Americans.  There is no doubt that it already is.  Do we need even further reform?  Absolutely, and we must continue to push for those further reforms.  To get to those further reforms, however, we have to prove that the reform we have now works.  It's time for all progressives to join together to ensure that reform is successful, because we can only build further reforms on a foundation of success.

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Happy 4th of July!

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