Will Obamacare Ever Match Medicare’s Bipartisan Popularity?

National Journal: “Nearly 50 years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted Medicare and Medicaid amidst passionate opposition to the program that has since become widely ingrained in the fabric of society.”

“The hope for liberals: that the shift in perspective on Medicare foreshadows a shift to eventual popularity for Obamacare.”

“Both the Social Security Amendments—creating Medicare and Medicaid—and the Affordable Care Act created political controversy, and both were passed by large majorities of Democrats in Congress after landslide elections … And both took a long time to fully implement.”

“Both were even debated along party lines, although many Republicans ended up voting in favor of the final Medicare bill, viewing it as a lost cause.”

“On the other hand, perhaps because they were vastly outnumbered, Republicans never seriously talked about repealing Medicare. The program also had a very identifiable group of beneficiaries, while Obamacare targets diffuse populations … And there were no significant court cases brought against Medicare, whereas five years after Obamacare’s passage it awaits yet another Supreme Court decision on the legality of key aspects of the law.”

“Medicare and Medicaid were adopted, to some extent, in a bipartisan way, because the parties were much less aligned along the ideological spectrum the way they are now.”

“That meant the programs’ flaws could be fixed legislatively. Today, there’s little chance of that happening, and solutions instead must come administratively or from the courts.”

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