Why Is Obamacare Still Unpopular?

Jonathan Cohn – acknowledging that public opinion for Obamacare remains largely negative – suggests that there are some surprising factors driving public perceptions.

“The first and more obvious factor is partisanship … Powerful as it is, the continuing partisan divide cannot tell the entire story. If it did, then the health care law would have a net positive rating, since more Americans identify or lean Democratic than Republican. When Kaiser researchers — again, at HuffPost’s request — tallied more than 8,000 interviews they’d conducted over the course of the year they found that intensity of opinion is much stronger among Republicans than Democrats and that Republicans are more likely to rate the law unfavorably than Democrats are to rate it favorably.”

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“So what’s the mystery factor? The best guess is that people are holding the law responsible for all of the problems of the health care system — including those like rising deductibles, narrowing hospital networks, or even long waits at the doctor’s office that most experts believe have little or nothing to do with the law itself.”

“In retrospect, it’s not surprising that so many people assume the Affordable Care Act is to blame (or, in some cases, to thank) for the changes they are seeing. By enacting such sweeping legislation, Obama and his allies tied their law to everything that happens in health care — good and bad and in between. And by largely avoiding changes that affect most Americans, they gave most people little reason to doubt the cues they get from the news and their partisan leaders.”

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