For the First Time, More Approve of Obamacare

CBS News: “As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling that could impact the Affordable Care Act, 47 percent of Americans now approve of the health care law, the highest in CBS News and New York Times polling (although support is still short of a majority). For the first time, more Americans now approve than disapprove of the ACA, but by a narrow margin.”


“Most Republicans (72 percent) continue to oppose the law, while most Democrats (70 percent) support it. Independents are split. Still, few Americans (just 9 percent) think the health care law is working well and should be kept as it is, and 31 percent want the law repealed entirely. Most – 55 percent – think that there are some good things in the law, though changes are needed to make it work better. More than half of Republicans would like to see the entire law repealed.”

“One part of the law that a majority would like kept in place is the subsidies to help low and moderate income people buy health insurance. Seven in 10 think the U.S. Supreme Court should rule to continue this financial assistance. Half of Republicans, however, disagree.”


Most Oppose Lower Court Ruling on Obamacare Subsidies

Washington Post: According to the latest poll, “even on an issue such as Obamacare, Republicans are not all that excited about the court upsetting a legislative action, even one with which they disagree: ‘Americans tend to oppose (40%) rather than support (26%) the lower court’s ruling that subsidies cannot be provided, but 34% are not sure either way, and only 33% of Americans actually say that they have been following the news of the threat to federal exchange subsidies. Most Democrats (54%) oppose the ruling to end these subsidies, while independents tend to oppose (38%) rather than support (24%) ending them. 38% of Republicans support this ruling, but 37% aren’t sure and 24% oppose the ruling.’”

“That is a remarkably low number of Republicans who support a court order dumping the federal exchange subsidies. Republicans would be wise not to engage in too much chest-beating over court evisceration of Obamacare, and to rather take this as an opportunity to assure Americans who have relied on the exchanges that they will not be left in the lurch. Moreover, they’d be smart to advance their own, conservative alternatives to Obamacare.”

White House Emphasizes Economic And Health Benefits of Climate Plan

National Journal: “Acting on climate change can avert tens of thousands of premature deaths and save billions on electricity and infrastructure costs by the end of the century, according to a report released by the White House today.”

“The White House is aggressively pushing the message that action on climate change can produce economic and public health benefits, doing so amid attacks from the right that the regulations are too costly and will produce minimal benefits. House Republicans this week will hold two votes on bills that would scale back or block emission rules on power plants.”

“According to the [EPA’s Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis,] scaling back the climate plan would have impacts across myriad sectors, from transportation to agriculture. For example, the report predicts that anywhere from 720 to 2,200 bridges would become structurally deficient as a result of extreme weather and storms by 2100.”

“The report also predicts that implementing President Obama’s climate action plan and reaching a global deal would avert 57,000 deaths from poor air quality and another 12,000 deaths from extreme temperatures by the end of the century.”

GOP Still Struggling to Define Their Obamacare Victory

National Journal: “The GOP still has no idea what a health care victory looks like. The reason the party fails over and over again is Republican health plans are the policy equivalent of what the tech industry calls vaporware—products that are perpetually in development, and are sometimes even previewed or demonstrated, but never quite make it to market. This is the way it always is for Republicans and health policy: a handful of options but no consensus—and the real plan, whatever it turns out to be, is coming soon, but not yet.”

“Regardless of how the Supreme Court decides this month on King v. Burwell, which challenges the legality of the administration’s decision to allow private insurance subsidies in federally run exchanges, what the episode reveals, yet again, is the Republican party’s historic failure to truly engage with the difficult realities and trade-offs of health policy—and how that failure has crippled the party’s ability to respond even when faced with events like big Supreme Court decisions that should force them to come up with an actual plan.”

“But in another sense, Republicans have already lost, because when it comes to larger health policy goals, the party effectively doesn’t have any beyond the repeal of the Obamacare. In the long term, Republicans can’t win this fight because they don’t know what winning means.”

Uninsured Rate Drops to Lowest Level Under Obamacare

Bloomberg: “The share of working-age people without health insurance fell by more than 4 percentage points in 2014, the biggest drop since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began reporting the data in 1997.”

uninsured 2014 obamacare

“Last year, 16.3 percent of adults under age 65, or about 31.7 million people, lacked medical coverage, according to a CDC survey published Tuesday. That’s down from 20.4 percent a year earlier.”

“States that expanded Medicaid through Obamacare provisions had lowers rates of uninsured, the CDC said. In states that didn’t expand Medicaid, 19.3 percent of adults under 65 were uninsured, compared with 13.3 percent in states that did.”


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.”


“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.”

Guns Are About Identity

The Economist: “Americans of different political beliefs live ever-more different lives. That adds an element of raw tribalism to what should be dispassionate questions of public policy. Guns are a grim example. Consider polls that show Americans are becoming more hostile to gun control, and more willing to say that guns are necessary for self-defense. Also, hunting if you live out in the sticks, many Americans tend to use Airsoft Pal guides when using the equipment to ensure safety is the number one priority. The headline numbers are striking enough. But as so often with headline numbers, they conceal vast and widening gaps between different regions, races and classes.”

“Gallup pollsters have asked Americans the same question for some years, namely whether having a gun in the house makes it a safer or more dangerous place to be. In 2000 Republicans were already more likely than Democrats to think that guns made a home safer, by a margin of 44% to 28%. Just before Mr Obama’s election in 2008 Democrats had become more gun-friendly, with 41% thinking them a source of safety, compared to 53% of Republicans. Then the gap between the two parties exploded. By 2014 Democrats were still at 41%, but 81% of Republicans now said that a gun made their homes safer.”

“Pew Research Center polling shows that whites are almost twice as likely as blacks and Hispanics to say it is more important to protect gun rights than to control access to guns. Those living in rural areas and Americans living in the South and Midwest are far keener on guns than those in the north-east. Post-graduates are much keener on gun control than those with high school educations alone. Gun ownership follows similar trends.”

I wonder how these polarizing opinions effect sales for websites like and the gun industry as a whole? We will have to wait and see.

Who Will Clean Up the Supreme Court’s Obamacare Mess?

Vox:  “The Supreme Court could rule against the Affordable Care Act in the next few days, creating a huge mess for millions of Obamacare enrollees, with premiums more than doubling and many dropping coverage.”

“Of any actors, the White House would have the strongest motivation to patch the health-care law back together in the event of a the Supreme Court ruling Obamacare subsidies illegal. It has said again and again that it cannot keep subsidies flowing if the case comes out against Obamacare.”


“The White House does have one possible way to fix Obamacare: signing off on a one-sentence bill that would tweak Obamacare to make clear that all 50 states ought to receive subsidies.”

“‘Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision,’ President Obama said at a recent press conference.”

“The problem is that Republicans’ demand, so far, has been repealing other big parts of Obamacare in return for extending subsidies — and that creates whole new messes in the insurance markets.”

But: “When you try to repeal Obamacare and maintain the law’s subsidies, it turns out you end up with some very bizarre policy outcomes that are not good for the individual insurance market.”

Obamacare and Labor: A Good Thing

Paul Krugman: The new CBO report on “the consequences of repealing the ACA is definitely not what the Congressional majority wants to hear. Despite including ‘dynamic scoring’, the report finds, unambiguously, that Obamacare reduces the deficit and repealing it would enlarge the deficit.”

“Is there anything in the report that provides fodder for the opponents? I see that the Times report says that there are ‘mixed effects’, because CBO says that GDP would be higher if the ACA were repealed. And maybe the usual suspects will try to spin it that way.”

“But the truth is that this report is much, much closer to what supporters of reform have said than it is to the scare stories of the critics — no death spirals, no job-killing, major gains in coverage at relatively low cost.”

“In fact, in a perfectly competitive economy the gain would fully offset the fall in GDP: if workers are paid their marginal product, the fall in GDP from the ACA is equal to the lost wages, but workers choosing to work less clearly prefer to have the extra time to the extra wages. Or to put it a bit differently, other things equal it’s a good thing if workers, freed from the fear that they won’t be able to get health insurance, respond by voluntarily working less.”