It’s no secret that Democrats aren’t always great at communicating their message to the public, especially when it comes to health care. Poll after poll has shown this. At the height of the health care debate, Americans remained confident in their work-sponsored health insurance, even though it’s being eroding and Democrats were trying mightily to convince Americans that the whole system badly needed an overhaul. Lots of Americans, including seniors, believed Democratic health care reform would gut Medicare, even though the Affordable Care Act (ACA) leaves standard Medicare benefits unchanged and extends the life of the program.
But a new survey out today really takes the cake. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan research organization that does the best polling on health care, half of all Americans either think the ACA has already been repealed or aren’t sure. (click to enlarge)
The House repealed the law and minority Senate Republicans voted to do so, but actual repeal would need to be passed by both chambers and signed by President Obama.
The Democratic message on health care right now is: Republicans want to repeal the law and take away the benefits you’re already getting – coverage for adult children, coverage for childrens’ pre-existing conditions, prescription drug rebates for seniors, etc. But this message doesn’t even have a chance to get through to more than half the public, which thinks the whole message was made moot by repeal of the law. This also means not very many Americans are actually benefiting from the small pieces of the law that have been implemented already.
Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote today that he wasn’t necessarily shocked by his poll’s findings, but still found them disappointing.
First, people are very busy just getting through the day and they don’t have a lot of time to sort through news reports about the policymaking process. They see the word “repeal” in the local paper or hear it on TV and think the law has been repealed. Second, there may be some partisan wishful thinking going on; 30 percent of Republicans think the law has been repealed while only 12 percent of Democrats do. But overall, it is obvious that the knowledge of basic civics is pretty low.
Altman thinks a heavy new dose of Schoolhouse Rock might held the public be more educated on the legislative process. What do you think?