This week’s election of conservative Sen.-elect Scott Brown (Republican) in a very blue Massachusetts has sent shock waves throughout the White House and congressional leadership. In the last few days, the media has filed countless articles about Democratic members dropping their demands to ramrod a massive overhaul on the health care sector and instead start over with smaller components.
That’s because despite some political analysis that stated otherwise, the Massachusetts senate vote was in part a referendum on ObamaCare. Politico reported this week that exit polls circulated by Republican polling firm Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates “found that 52 percent of Massachusetts voters said they opposed [President Barack Obama’s] health care push, and 42 percent said they voted to for Brown to stop reform.”
But this isn’t the first time the American public has come out against ObamaCare. Public opinion polls for the past year from Gallup, Zogby International and even the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press have shown a steady drop in support, and corresponding rise in opposition, to health care reform legislation that would bloat Washington’s powers over the private health care sector.
Kaiser Health News reporter Mary Agnes Carey has pinpointed some of the factors in ObamaCare that caused the greatest concern among a major voting group — Americans with job-based insurance who liked their coverage.
Some of the things that didn’t strike well with the public:
• Proposed cuts to the popular Medicare Advantage, in which one in four seniors are enrolled in the private-based health plans.
• Promises from Obama that a health care overhaul would cut health care costs. Subsequent reports from the Congressional Budget Office, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other agencies would show that reform would bend the cost curve upward.
• A planned barrage of new taxes considered on everything from health insurance premiums and tanning beds to medical devices and cosmetic surgeries.
• Backroom deal-making that cut sweetheart deals for congressional members over Medicaid funding and other health care perks.
Add to all of these issues a complete lack of transparency in the last few weeks of the health care negotiations, which President Obama and others policymakers promised at the start of their reform efforts. When you add all of these issues — along with citizens’ protests at the Capitol and across America against government’s growth and greater spending — it’s no surprise that that voters would show their displeasure in the polls.
The real question now is if Congress will stop trying to overhaul one-sixth of the American economy and start over with real reform efforts that could garner genuine bipartisan support?