04/02/2017

Are Obamacare Insurance Mandates Really That Popular?

Jenny Beth Martin, The Washington Times

ANALYSIS/OPINION

So, we found out in last week’s AHCA exercise that despite there being 237 Republicans in the House of Representatives, there are not 218 votes there to repeal the core elements of Obamacare – the insurance company mandates that are causing skyrocketing premiums. That, ultimately, is the key flaw that led to the bill’s demise.

Of course Republicans are all for repealing the law’s tax increases, and even a lot of the spending increases, and the individual and employer mandates, and many (though possibly not a majority) even support reforming Medicaid. Those elements were in the bill, and they were all good.

But it’s really the insurance mandates that are the key to repealing Obamacare. Until those insurance mandates – specifically, “Guaranteed Issue,” “Community Rating,” and “Essential Health Benefits” – are repealed, Obamacare’s individual exchanges will continue to be in a so-called “death spiral,” that death spiral will accelerate, and skyrocketing premiums will continue to be the rule, rather than the exception.

Consequently, no bill that fails to repeal these insurance mandates can really be called “Obamacare repeal.”

As House Speaker Paul Ryan and his leadership team survey the state of affairs, they should be asking themselves a simple question: Why are there more votes to save these three elements of Obamacare than there are votes to repeal them? Answer: Because they’re “popular” with the public, of course, and only foolhardy politicians want to repeal something that’s “popular.”

For those who want House Republicans actually to live up to their promises to repeal Obamacare – that is, to the tens of millions of voters who relied on Republican promises that they would do exactly that, if and when given the opportunity – that’s a problem.

Fortunately, there’s a solution.

The Cato Institute recently commissioned two surveys measuring public opinion on these aspects of Obamacare. Fielded on February 22 and 23, 2017, by YouGov, they are the first surveys of which I am aware that attempt to gauge support for these core elements of Obamacare.

When asked “Do you favor or oppose a provision in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that requires insurance companies cover anyone who applies for health insurance, including those who have a pre-existing medical condition,” 77 percent support, against just 20 percent who oppose, for a net +57 percent.

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