NBC/WSJ Poll: Obamacare's Unpopularity "Reaches New Highs"

Posted: Jun 06, 2013 2:59 PM

National Democrats -- who were frantically whispering to reporters about their Obamacare panic just a few weeks ago -- have unveiled a new 2014 strategy for dealing with the controversial law: Own it.  So far, vulnerable red state Democrats are standing up and saluting.  Great.  Own this, Democrats:

President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law remains unpopular with the American public just months before it fully goes into effect, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows 49 percent of Americans say they believe the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea. That’s the highest number recorded on this question since the poll began measuring it in 2009. Just 37 percent say the plan is a good ideaAs the political battle over implementation of the law heats up in Washington, the numbers mark an increase in unpopularity since July 2012, right after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obama’s overhaul...For individuals, the current poll also finds 38 percent of respondents saying that they (and their families) will be worse off under the health care law. That’s the highest percentage of respondents to express a negative outlook toward “Obamacare” since 2010, when the president signed this signature piece of legislation into law following an extended, bruising battle in Congress. By comparison, 19 percent say they'll be better off...

The Wall Street Journal flags another interesting finding in the national survey:

Skepticism runs particularly high among those Americans who buy insurance on the individual market, one of the key groups the law is intended to help. Among those adults who currently buy insurance on their own, 48% think they will be worse off as a result of the new law, compared with the 13% who said they would be better off. Americans who have insurance coverage through the government or their employer also doubt, on the whole, that they will benefit from the new law.”

Their skepticism is well-founded.  Healthy young and middle-aged people who purchase insurance on the individual market are likely to endure the most acute premium shocks as the law is fully implemented (and enforced by the IRS) starting next year.  Healthcare policy expert Avik Roy offered an analysis last week explaining why these groups will see premiums rise between 64 and 164 percent in California alone.  It's been fascinating to witness the lefty wonkosphere tear into Roy, who is about as thorough, transparent and responsive as they come.  Because Roy rudely insists on highlighting inconvenient facts, eminding Americans of Democrats' original Obamacare sales pitch, and holding liberal experts and pundits to their previous predictions, he's being tarred as a reckless partisan liar who makes up statistics. Here's my favorite confident (and totally wrong) assertion from one of Obamacare's chief architects:

“What we know for sure,” Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber told Ezra Klein in 2009, “is that [the bill] will lower the cost of buying non-group health insurance.” 

"For sure!"  While moving the goalposts, some of Roy's critics also get
basic facts wrong.  I think their fury stems from a frustration with reality, which differs from the projected, politicized reality on which they staked their expertise.  As the law falters out of the gate and retains its poison pill status with the American people, they have to lash out at someone, I guess.  By the way, one of their big arguments is that premiums will increase for a lot of people, but they'll get more comprehensive benefits, plus uninsured and poor people will get subsidized coverage (subsidized by you, by the way).  That's all true, but it wasn't what we were sold.  We were sold much lower premiums with more coverage for everyone, and reduced costs across the board.  Now the less-appealing caveats are coming out of the woodwork.  On the uninsured point, the public was endlessly lectured about the "46 to 50 million" uninsured Americans whose (genuine, in many cases) plight justified a multi-trillion, government-centric overhaul of our entire system.  That number was always bogus, but it's the figure they chose to employ.  Guess what?  Only a fraction of that group will obtain insurance under Obamacare.  In any case, good luck with that ownage, Democrats.