Yes we can.
Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the next phase of the battle over Obamacare is about to begin.
And, yes -- this time around -- we can make Mitt Romney and the Republicans pay the political price they deserve to pay for promising to take away vitally important and popular health care benefits from the American people.
Wishful thinking? Hardly.
My company recently conducted a national survey of 1,000 voters to measure public support for four benefits contained in ACA and, then tested the public's reaction to these benefits being eliminated. The provisions tested were:
- The end of insurance denials because of pre-existing conditions. 67 percent of survey respondents said they were more likely to support ACA because of this provision.
- The end of medical bankruptcies. 61 percent of voters said they were more likely to support ACA because of this provision.
- The end of women paying more for health coverage. 57 percent said they were more likely to support ACA because of this provision.
- The expansion of health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans. 55 percent were more likely to support ACA because of this provision.
Clearly, Americans enthusiastically support these benefits. And, when voters understand that they would be eliminated with ACA's repeal, support for repeal completely reversed - from 52-37 percent favoring repeal at the outset of the survey before the benefits were described - to 49-43 percent opposing repeal by the end - a 21 point shift. Independents initially favored repeal by 48-30 percent, but after hearing about the potential loss of benefits, they opposed repeal by 46-40 percent, a 24-point shift.
This strategic survey confirmed our belief that American voters still do not understand some of the major benefits of ACA, particularly those provisions that are rooted in basic values about what American health care should be. Simply put, opposition to ACA is not nearly as fixed as many believe. If it were, the movement against repeal might have been five or six points, not 20 points.
Thus, even at this late date in the debate, there are powerful arguments that can still be used to increase public support for ACA - and simultaneously weaken the arguments of Romney and the Republicans against it.
Don't let Romney and the Republicans Repeal the Affordable Care Act.
- If Romney and the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will once again be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
- If the Romney and the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, millions of American families will once again be at risk of falling into bankruptcy because of medical expenses.
- If Romney and the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, women will once again pay more for their health insurance coverage than men.
- If Romney and the Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act, 30 million Americans will continue to be without health insurance coverage.
Yes, the economy will be the dominant issue of 2012. But the Republican assault on Obamacare will continue at full force. Their attacks must be answered.
There are still other substantive arguments that have yet to be fully utilized that we did not test in this survey. For example, (1) 26 year olds are allowed to stay on their parents' policies, (2) preventive coverage for many medical issues will be made available for free, and, (3) the CBO says that ACA will reduce the national deficit, not increase it - a woefully underutilized case for the legislation.
All of the provisions should properly be characterized as ACA benefits that Romney and the Republicans want to take away. Consider this example: in one of our national surveys, 37 percent of Americans said they know someone who has been denied health coverage because of a pre-existing condition - a truly powerful motivation to support the end of pre-existing denials.
In this context, the end of medical bankruptcies, bringing health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans, and the elimination of pre-existing denials become especially important, because the Republicans are substantively silent on all counts.
If Democrats are seen fighting to protect the preservation of these popular benefits from the Republicans efforts to repeal them, it is doubtful that Romney and his right-wing cronies can inflict more damage to ACA. Indeed, the reverse is true. The right fighting strategy will gain votes for the President and the Democrats - and lose votes for Romney and the Republicans.