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What does the public *really* think about healthcare reform?

Posted by Mark Ryan, MD February 14, 2011 at 8:25 AM

The debate surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been marked by misinformation and dishonest rhetoric by those who opposed the law’s passage and who now oppose its implementation.  Over the last 6 weeks we have heard much about how much the public supposedly opposes the law, and how anxious the public is to repeal the law wholesale.  This is another example of exaggeration, as evidenced in this article. The article indicates that if given only an up-or-down option, more Americans would vote to repeal than to keep it.  However, if the polls include additional options, the true public feeling is evident.  In one poll, approximately ¼ of those who favor repealing the PPACA do so because they do not feel the law went far enough in its reforms.  Another poll shows that approximately 1/3 of Americans would repeal the law, 1/3 would like to expand it, and about 20% would prefer to keep it the same.  These results are very different from the current House of Representative’s leadership’s claims that their vote to repeal the law was based on the public’s opposition to the PPACA. 

The above article also indicates that the House’s plan to attack the PPACA by de-funding the law is unpopular.  In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 62% opposed de-funding the law.  With that information, it is good to see the PPACA’s reforms being implemented despite its opponents’ rhetoric.  Starting on January 1st, provisions providing a boost in Medicare reimbursement for some primary care physicians and general surgeons and a requirement that health insurance plans spend at least 80% of patient premiums on providing care have gone into effect. 

As the public and physicians continue to see benefits from the PPACA, the law will become increasingly popular and accepted.  In the meantime, it would be nice if the law’s opponents would tone down the exaggerated rhetoric.  Both supporters and opponents of the PPACA agree that the law needs adjustments—we should be working together to strengthen the law and ensure access to health care for all.

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