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Summertime Blues: Polls show ObamaCare support eroding amid roll-out problems

 

As problems continue to pile up over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, summertime polls from Fox News, Gallup and Rasmussen signal that growing confusion over the complexities of the law, how it will be rolled out and how much it will cost is eroding public support.   

A majority of Americans say they believe the new health care law will increase their medical costs and taxes, according to an Aug. 8 Fox News poll. The survey found 57 percent of those polled felt the way ObamaCare was being rolled out was "a joke." 

Overall, 63 percent of voters believe that the 2010 health care law needs to be changed. That number is up from 58 percent of those asked the question in July 2012. 

The number of Republicans who think the law should be changed remained steady at 84 percent. According to the poll, more voters used negative terms to describe the health care overhaul -- with 39 percent calling it "disastrous" and 14 percent calling it "a step backwards." 

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The Fox News poll, which is based on landline and cellphone interviews with 1,007 randomly chosen registered voters, found 71 percent of voters believed ObamaCare will increase their taxes, while 62 percent believe it will increase the cost of their premiums. Sixty-five percent believe implementing the law will add to the federal deficit. 

The confusion over what will happen with the Affordable Care Act seems to be growing as the Oct. 1 opening of ObamaCare exchanges draws near. 

Major elements of the law have been met with strong opposition and the White House's plan to pump up support appears to be running into hardening perceptions. 

Initially, the goal was to provide medical coverage for the country's 50 million uninsured and to restrain skyrocketing costs. Last month, Obama acknowledged glitches in implementing the law and announced a one-year delay in a major provision requiring companies to provide coverage for their workers. 

In the latest development, the administration has also delayed for a year a cap on out-of-pocket medical costs. A partial cap will still go into effect, but the delay could lead to consumers paying more for out-of-pocket drug costs in the interim. 

So far, 21 governors have opted out of the law's Medicaid expansion and even more refused to set up a health insurance marketplace -- those marketplaces are supposed to get off the ground at the beginning of 2014. 

Labor unions have also ramped up their criticism of ObamaCare and its impact on union-run health plans. Many claim the law will drive up costs for plans that are managed jointly by small business owners and unions which could cause unionized employers to drop coverage to 20 million people. 

Union officials also have been upset that the Obama administration listened to employer requests to delay a provision requiring bigger companies to provide insurance coverage or pay a penalty. 

Laborers International Union of North America President Terry O'Sullivan sent Obama an email last month saying the law has "destructive consequences." O'Sullivan's letter echoed the sentiments written in a separate letter by the heads of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers and Unite Here. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went a step further and took out print ads raising concerns over the law. 

The setbacks seem to be taking a toll on how Americans view the overhaul. 

According to an Aug. 12 Rasmussen Reports poll, 53 percent of U.S. voters said they viewed Obama's health care law unfavorably. The national survey of 1,000 voters found 42 percent of that group having a "very unfavorable" opinion of the law. 

Those numbers are in line with a Gallup poll that found more Americans to have a negative rather than a positive view about the health care law's future impact on their family and the country. 

Fifty-two percent of Americans say they disapprove of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while 44 percent approve. Last fall, 48 percent said they approved of the law and 45 percent disapproved. Americans have generally been divided in their views of the law since it was passed in 2010. 

Obama defended the law at a press conference this past Friday, and blasted Republicans for continuing to speak ill of it. 

"I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail, their No. 1 priority. The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don't have health care and, presumably, repealing all those benefits," Obama said. 

He continued: "There is no doubt that in implementing the Affordable Care Act, a program of this significance, there are going to be some glitches. No doubt about it." 

But he said the goal is to deliver "high-quality, affordable health care for people and to reform the system so costs start going down and people start getting a better bang for the buck. And I make no apologies for that."