Affordable Care Act Supporters Numbers Dwindling

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The Affordable Care Act is here. Whether it’s here to stay is still to be determined.

While confusion and controversy continues to surround the Affordable Care Act, there has been success with providing healthcare to the previously uninsured and allowing preventative care treatment to those who previously did not have access to it. To characterize it as a success or a failure early on would be presumptuous, as many details are still falling into place and politicians continue to try to tweak – or abolish – the legislation.

medical_billing_advocate-130Public opinion polls about the Affordable Care Act seem to be pointing to a trend that says a majority of Americans are not in support of it in its current state. According to a survey by Gallup, the number of those who don’t look upon the Affordable Care Act favorably are at the highest ever. This could be a precedent for how the ACA will move forward both in the minds of citizens and in the halls of Congress.

Open enrollment is happening for the second time in the history of the ACA. Only 37 percent of Americans say that they approve of the law. That is one percentage point lower than the last report taken in January. Furthermore, 56 percent say they disapprove – an increase of one point. This Gallup poll was carried out November 6-9, 2014 with a national sample of 828 adults. This poll has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

That is a marked difference from December of 2012, when the Gallup poll reported that 48 percent approved and 45 percent disapproved. Since roughly January of 2013, though, the number of those in disapproval has stayed above the percentage of those who approve.

Regardless of when the surveys were taken, there has been a consistent disapproval of the Affordable Care Act. What makes today’s numbers stand out, is that the gap between those who are in support of the legislation and those who are not has never been this large.

It’s a story of two lines in a graph going in opposite directions, and the causes are plentiful and seem to be multiplying.


What are the Reasons for the Decline in the Support of the ACA?

The decline started over time when millions of Americans lost their current policies, which contradicted President Barack Obama’s pledge that people would not lose their coverage – a widely publicized concern for Americans.

Back in December of 2013, Huffington Post reported that even Millennials were becoming dissatisfied. The age group that played a huge role in getting Obama elected twice has grown somewhat pessimistic, according to the Huffington Post, and that has started to put a damper on Obama’s signature legislation’s approval numbers.

Citing the Harvard Institute of Politics, dissatisfaction with Obamacare (or the ACA, since each term was used when asking those polled) had a lot to do with young adults’ dissatisfaction with politics and politicians in general.


Is There Correlation with Political Views?

medical_billing_advocate-63Democrats still heavily support the Affordable Care Act and those who tend to vote Republican are against it. Take a look at the numbers provided by Gallup. 74 percent of Democrats are in favor of the ACA in its current state while just eight percent of Republicans approve of it.

Furthermore, 33 percent of Independents are in favor, a drop of seven percent since the inception. Democratic support fell six percentage points from the beginning while Republicans actually saw a one point increase.

According to the National Review, citing The Weekly Standard, during the week of October 6, 2014, there were more than 11,000 anti-ACA ads by Republican Senate candidates. The story went on to say that ACA-centric ads were far more prevalent than those focusing on other important issues like unemployment and immigration.

Are politicians leading the conversation and convincing voters to disapprove of the Affordable Care Act or are they echoing the sentiments of their constituents?

That begs the question: Are politicians leading the conversation and convincing voters to disapprove of the Affordable Care Act or are they echoing the sentiments of their constituents? The stats in the Gallup poll show that the rate of disapproval has not taken a major dip, and the National Review states that 53 percent of people looked at the ACA unfavorably in July of 2014, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Lastly, the acceptance of the ACA has gone down alongside Obama’s approval rating. Gallup reports that for the week of November 17, 2014, Obama’s approval rating was 42 percent, down from 58 percent two years ago.


What Can Happen Because of the Unpopularity?

A lack of popularity with any policy that was spearheaded by one particular political party can certainly lead to concessions in the future, and that bodes well for those who disapprove of the ACA. With Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives and Congress, it is likely that those Republicans will be pushing for repeal of certain aspects or even attempt to repeal the entire ACA.

medical_billing_advocate-38With future pieces of legislation that Democrats want to get passed, they will need votes from some Republican members. And those Republican members can use the repeal of certain Affordable Care Act aspects as a bargaining chip. It certainly has the potential to put Democrats in a tough place, as they try to fight battles with things like immigration, education and social safety nets.

Also, the low numbers of support have energized some Republican politicians who use the ACA as an example of poor governance on the behalf of the Democratic Party. Those who may not have preference in terms of Democrats or Republicans may be compelled to identify with those candidates and thus provide more votes for future Republican candidates.

Republicans who want to repeal specific parts of the legislation have ammunition now, and they are likely to push for the elimination of the medical device tax. According to CBS News, there is bipartisan support for eliminating a 2.3 percent sales tax on medical devices, which would cause a $30 billion revenue gap in the next 10 years. With a solid number of Democrats also in favor, this is likely to happen.

The changes in Congress’ makeup are also going to put the definition of a “work week” up for debate. The current ACA states that employers must provide healthcare to employees who work more than 30 hours per week. Republicans want to move that number up to 40, and they will have the voice of the public behind them as they attempt to push for that change, according to CBS News. Still, Obama has stated publicly that he would veto this change.

Filed under: Resources, US Healthcare, Obamacare, Medical Billing Industry, Healthcare in Politics, Affordable Care Act

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