The demand for more ambitious health care reform

THE DEMAND FOR MORE AMBITIOUS HEALTH CARE REFORM…. The new CNN poll on the Affordable Care Act, celebrating its first anniversary today, is already proving to be popular on the right. And if one only looks at the first two paragraphs, it’s easy to see why.

One year after President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, a new national poll indicates that attitudes toward the plan have not budged.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, on the one year anniversary of the signing of the law, 37 percent of Americans support the measure, with 59 percent opposed. That’s basically unchanged from last March, when 39 percent supported the law and 59 percent opposed the measure.

But what this neglects to mention is the relevant detail — there’s quite a disagreement within that 59% majority.

In fact, the top line is pretty misleading. While 37% support the law, another 13% want the Affordable Care Act to go further, be more ambitious, and offer more progressive reforms. In other words, 50% of Americans support the law or want it to be more liberal.

The assumption is generally that opponents of the reform law agree with the right and have bought into Republican arguments. That’s clearly not the case. It’s obviously wrong to characterize the ACA as popular — after a massive misinformation campaign, it’s clearly not — but the nature of the opposition matters.

This isn’t limited to the CNN poll. The latest data from the Kaiser Family Foundation offered a similar take on public attitudes. Americans with unfavorable attitudes about the law still outnumber supporters, but when asked about preferences, a majority of the country either backs the Affordable Care Act or wants it “expanded.”

Results like these have been a staple of health care polling for a year, but the point is consistently left out of the larger policy discussion, swamped with establishment assumptions about how much Americans “don’t like” health care reform.

Update: Speaker Boehner’s (R-Ohio) is pushing the CNN poll pretty aggressively. Either the Speaker and his team haven’t really read the poll, or they’re prepared to hope you won’t pay attention to the details.