Information Is Health Care Reform’s Friend

Polls indicate that the public will likely support the new health care law more as they learn more about it, writes Ruy Teixeira.

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Conservatives believe that as the truth comes out about the Affordable Health Care Act, the public will become ever-more opposed to it. They’re hoping to capitalize politically on such sentiments in the 2010 election and beyond.

But they shouldn’t count those particular chickens until they’re hatched. Consider these results from the latest Kaiser Health Tracking poll. First, the poll records a slightly more favorable (46 percent) than unfavorable (40 percent) reaction to the “new health reform law.” Thus, it is not the case that polls even now are uniformly showing unfavorable reaction to the new law.

And, as the poll shows, the public does not currently believe they have enough information about the new law to clearly understand how it will affect them personally. Just 43 percent say they now have enough information to make this judgment, compared to 56 percent who say they don’t. Thus, more information could presumably make a difference to current feelings about the Affordable Health Care Act.

This is where the conservatives’ big problem comes in. There are a wide variety of changes that will take effect this year as a result of the law. Kaiser tested favorability to 11 of these changes, including “allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26” (74 percent favorable), “providing tax credits to businesses with fewer than 25 workers that provide health insurance to their employees” (86 percent favorable), and “making it harder for insurance companies to drop someone’s coverage when that person has a major health problem” (81 percent favorable). The average across the 11 changes was 73 percent favorable, with no change lower than 57 percent favorable.

This indicates that as the public hears more about these changes and encounters them when interacting with the health care system, favorability toward the new health care reform law is likely to grow. And conservatives’ expectations, once again, are likely to be disappointed.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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Ruy Teixeira

Former Senior Fellow

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