It's time to get on board with the Affordable Care Act
I remember the day that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed. I stayed up late watching the "live coverage" of legislators putting in their votes. When the votes were in and the bill passed, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought that we had gotten past the hard part.
It has been three years since Obamacare was signed into law, and a recent CNN poll suggests that a majority of Americans are still not on board with the law. There is a twist in this survey, however: Thirty-five percent of those surveyed claimed that they did not support the ACA because it is "too liberal"--whatever that means. However, 16 percent of those surveyed said that they did not support ACA because it isn't liberal enough--whatever that means.
The CNN poll is the most recent in a series of polls that have been attempted since before the ACA became law. Most of the polls show roughly the same thing: People in America do not understand the ACA, but they know that they do not like it. From the get-go, the approval rating for the ACA has hovered somewhere between 40-45 percent for the overall law. (This survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that somewhere around 41 percent of Americans did not know whether the Affordable Care Act was actually law, with roughly 12 percent believing that it has been repealed by Congress.)
Individual components of the law, however, are wildly popular. For example, according to this Kaiser Health Tracking Poll , 88 percent of those surveyed support a tax credit allowed to small business who buy insurance for their employees, 76 percent favor the extension of dependent coverage, and 76 percent believe individuals should get subsidies to purchase health insurance if they need it.
By far the least popular provision of the law is the part where something is required of each of us - the individual mandate. In this part of the law, we will be required to carry health insurance. There had been some speculation that the individual mandate would (at least initially) drive health insurance premiums way up for young and healthy people in order to accommodate the older and sicker people. But even that is turning out to look better than many people initially thought , as the health care exchanges start to get set up in California, Oregon, and Washington.
Throughout this whole process, the USCCB has remained critical of the bill and later the law, becoming downright combative when the HHS mandate was announced. This means that the USCCB has largely failed to acknowledge that through the ACA, the number of uninsured people in the United States will be more than halved within ten years. This means more people will have access to affordable and quality health care and fewer people will be driven into poverty after suffering a medical crisis.
The ACA is not a perfect piece of legislation. It is a product of compromise and negotiation. It is the result of a democratic process. But it is the law of the land. It is going to help people to live without the fear that comes in living without health insurance.  And it is time for us to get behind it.
Image Credit:: Johan Sonin from flikr