Repealing ObamaCare Is Going To Hurt More Than Attacking It

There are new Gallup numbers out on Obamacare, showing the usual combo platter of negative feelings mixed with partisanship and lots of ignorance and indifference. It’s usual in discussions of public opinion on health care to distinguish between attitudes towards Obamacare and actual support for repealing it, and that’s useful. But as Jonathan Bernstein points out at Ten Miles Square, there are other layers of opinion we haven’t really plumbed yet:

[A]nyone contemplating repeal should ignore the poll numbers and think hard about what consumers would say if the benefits they enjoy were to disappear. People on expanded Medicaid may not credit Obamacare, but they sure are going to want to know why their coverage went away. The same is true of people who obtained insurance through the exchanges or have benefited in other ways.

I’d say among those who will be particularly disturbed are people with preexisting conditions who will not only lose insurance but the ability to purchases insurance; the best they can hope for, if there’s a conservative “replacement,” is the sole recourse of participation in some high-risk pool
that will likely offer bad insurance at high prices.

More broadly, as Bernstein points out, a post-Obamacare world will be one in which ignorance and knowledge alike start to work against Republicans rather than for them:

Remember, just as Obama is now held responsible for any bad news on health care — even if there’s no connection to the ACA — the blame would shift to Republicans if they successfully push repeal, with or without a replacement.

Given the rich diet of misinformation ranging from exaggeration to lies that Obamacare opponents have fed us, they’ll deserve every bit of backlash they get.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.