The NEWSWEEK Poll asked respondents about eight health-care-reform provisions that Obama and many Democrats in Congress have generally supported. It found that the majority of Americans supported five of those provisions, three by particularly large margins. Eighty-one percent agreed with the creation of a new insurance marketplace, the exchange, for individual subscribers to compare plans and buy insurance at a competitive rate. Seventy-six percent thought health insurers should be required to cover anyone who applies, including those with preexisting conditions; and 75 percent agreed with requiring most businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, with incentives for small-business owners to do so.The Newsweek article concludes that the poll shows that President Obama has done a poor job explaining the details of his reform plan to the public. I wholeheartedly agree. One of the most frustrating aspects of the push to reform healthcare has been the weak voice of the White House on the subject.
Not all Democrat positions received such high marks. Imposing a fine on individuals who do not buy health insurance was the least popular provision, supported by only 28 percent and opposed by 62 percent. Fifty-five percent opposed the so-called Cadillac tax on the most expensive health-insurance plans.
The Obama administration cannot rely upon the media to do the important work of explaining the plan to the public. Rather than discussing the merits of the plan, the media report political battles and rightwing hysteria (death panels, socialism, etc.). The failure to market the plan effectively has already diminished some of the Democrats' public support, and this problem could very well harm the party in the mid-term elections.