No matter what decision the Supreme Court releases in late June, in the court of public opinion, Obamacare has been a loser since day one.
Polls over the last two years have shown the public does not support the law. As Heritage expert Bob Moffit explains via a brief lesson in health policy history, “Based on Washington’s record of health policymaking, ending or rolling back Obamacare is hardly implausible.”
Throughout time, the public’s view on health care has consistently shown that Americans want to keep their current coverage, they don’t want to pay more, and they don’t trust government to control their health care.
The people’s opinion holds great power. Take, for example, the repeal of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. Despite support from a bipartisan majority, that legislation was repealed a year after its passage. When the public learned of its details and potential impact, they retracted their support. The law’s costs were double what the Congressional Budget Office originally estimated, and it forced seniors to pay for benefits they didn’t want.
Public opinion was also instrumental in sacking President Clinton’s health care plan. Moffit explains that, though the idea initially had vast support, “the reality was a massive, mind-numbing bureaucratic system of federal command and control of virtually every aspect of the health care system.” The result was the death of Clinton’s proposed overhaul. “The intense public hostility to the Clinton health plan itself—not Congress’s decision to defy public opinion and enact it anyway—contributed directly to the 1994 Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.”
Much like President Clinton’s plan, Obamacare breaks a number of promises to the American public: Its cost continues to rise, and more people are now expected to lose their existing coverage. Although Obamacare was a legislative victory and Clinton’s bill was not, Moffit points out that President Obama’s narrow legislative victory “came at the expense of forgoing popular support for his signature legislative accomplishment in the court of public opinion.”
In 2010, elections produced a Republican majority in the House and confirmed that Obamacare may very well share the same fate as President Clinton’s health care plan and the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in the end. Either way, one thing is certain: Obamacare was not the end of the health care debate.
To read The Heritage Foundation’s proposed foundation for health care reform, click here.