Healthcare law gaining in popularity

Remember last August and those furious town hall meetings where people yelled at the Democrats about healthcare reform? Have you accepted the new healthcare reform law as a benefit overall? Or are you one of the voters who still hates it?

Interestingly, polling has shifted on the popularity of the new law. While a majority favored repeal (58 percent) in the months after President Obama signed it into law at the end of March, a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows opposition dropping to 35 percent from 41 percent in the last month, and 50 percent of the public had a favorable view of the law, up from 48 percent. Support and opposition tend to be partisan, but the trendline is certainly heading in the Democrats' direction.

Republicans, who can't exactly promise voters repeal since they would need control of two-thirds of the Congress to override President Obama's veto, are campaigning on defunding the law. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has begun a push to stop the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which the law created to oversee Medicare expenditures. Cornyn's bill is co-sponsored by four other GOP senators and is called the Healthcare Bureaucrats Elimination Act.

Democrats are, of course, scrambling to defend the appealing parts of the law, such as the end of discrimination against the sick, but the sorry state of the economy tends to drown out almost every other topic. Not only is joblessness getting in the way of their sales pitch, but the calendar makes things more difficult as well. A report in The New York Times highlights the likelihood that insurance companies will raise their prices in anticipation of and response to taking more sick patients onto the rolls, since the mandate to buy insurance doesn't kick in until 2014. The influx of healthy new customers could bring those premiums down again, but that could be years away. And the rate hikes are expected soon; some could feel them before the election.

Another challenge for Democrats facing reelection this fall, and one you could say they brought on themselves.


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