Right after the big health care bill squeaked through in March, there was a lot of talk about how public suppport for the law would increase once people got past the misleading Republican rhetoric about “socialized medicine” and how the bill established “death panels” to decide when to “pull the plug on granny.”
You can find polls suggesting that the public likes various features of the bill, but at the level of impact on the midterm election, it seems that the 2009 health care debate is still helping Republicans and hurting Democrats in 2010. My buddy tom Hamburger’s story yesterday in the L.A. Times presents the latest evidence, in the form of TV advertising. For example, from Tom’s story:
“Since the bill passed in March, $23.3 million has been spent on ads attacking the law, compared with $6.3 million supporting the legislation.”
You could say this is a mixture of cause and effect, not a measure of the public’s true feelings. But the worst sign that Democrats don’t think so is this finding: The only Democrats in midterm races that Tom could find who are advertising about the new law are those who voted against it and want to make sure voters know that.
Now a group of organizations that support the bill, in coordination with the White House, are gearing up for another effort to convince the public that the law does more good than harm to the health care system. From Tom’s story:
A nationwide, multimillion-dollar ad offensive — organized in consultation with the White House and funded by sympathetic groups and wealthy individual donors — is set to kick off in the coming days. At the same time, dozens of leading consumer advocates, patient associations and medical groups, working independently and alongside the Obama administration, are scrambling to put together initiatives to tout the law’s benefits.
Those will have to be some very good ads. Also from the story:
“A recent survey by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of the country’s seniors think — erroneously — that the law creates a new government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff noted that voters also still think the law will lead to higher health costs, taxes and deficit spending, and lower quality of care — impressions that provide a clear advantage to Republicans.”
A small p.s. I have often referred to the law as “Obamacare.” Tom notes that this is a term mostly used — derisivly — by opponents. I’ve had some pushback from those objected to my use of the word. I confess that I don’t get it. Seems like a neutral nickname for the law. Its official name is “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”