Obama Popularity Improves Along With Successes Of Affordable Care Act

The National Journal led with Barack Obama in their list of biggest political losers of the year, comparing his trajectory to that of George W. Bush. We have a very small sample of presidents serving a second term in recent years, straining the significance of attempts by the media to make such comparisons. Bloomberg has picked up on a trend which most might have missed over a holiday. Obama’s popularity has picked up at the end of the year:

President Barack Obama has picked up five points in public approval since he’s gone away to Hawaii for a year-end family vacation.

The president’s public approval rating was hanging at 39 percent in the days before Christmas, by the Gallup Poll’s average of daily tracking surveys.

Today, in the surveys Dec. 26-28, his approval has risen to 44 percent. His disapproval rating, 54 percent pre-Christmas, is down to 49 percent.

It might also be premature to write Obama off so soon considering another recent Gallup poll which shows Obama leading the list of most admired men for the sixth consecutive year.

None of these polls are conclusive by themselves but should at least make us keep open the possibility that Obama’s popularity could rebound. A messed up web site is hardly as catastrophic as the incompetence shown in Bush’s handling of Katrina.

One factor which might be helping is that the Affordable Care Act is looking far better now than it did a month or two ago. Steve Benen points out over six million people receiving coverage. On top of the groups he looked at, an additional fifteen million are receiving coverage due to now being able to remain on their parents coverage until age 26.

Unfortunately many of the people taking advantage of these benefits probably do not even realize that they are receiving this due to Obamacare. As I discussed a few days ago, Barack Obama might never receive the credit he deserves for the Affordable Care Act as people take for granted the benefits they are now receiving while blaming Obamacare for problems in the medical system which were already present.

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  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    “over six million people receiving coverage”
    Possibly, but how many of them are actually paying?
    And will the insurance companies be nationalised when they go broke?
    Jest askin’!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    There’s nothing in the Affordable Care Act which would make insurance companies go broke. Their profits will increase by having more customers.

    Insurance companies have the choice as to whether to offer insurance on the exchanges (or directly to consumers–the numbers in the post don’t include people such as myself who purchased individual coverage directly from the insurance company). Insurance companies have been very eager to get involved in this opportunity to expand their business.

  3. 3
    David Duff says:

    As I understand it, the ACA relies on huge numbers of healthy Americans, ie, mostly the young, to sign up *and pay*.  If they do not, and they don’t seem to be doing so, then the insurance companies will be faced with unprecedented claims from the sickly  for which they do not have the expected income.
    I ask again, in those circumstances, will the government be forced to nationalise/bail out (you choose!)  the insurance companies in order to keep them going?
    As it happens, I think there are many people in the administration who would be very pleased if that was the outcome.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    You neither understand how the Affordable Care Act works or what the Obama administration wants. What is important is the risk pool–not limited to the young. If the worst case scenario comes about and the insured are sicker than they predicted, they will adjust their rates for next year. It would not cause bankruptcy. Your speculation is absurd.
    It is simply uninformed right wing hysteria to claim that the Obama administration would be pleased. Obama put forth a conservative plan which fits his philosophy. He ignored the possibility of more liberal alternatives such as single payer from the start.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    In addition, insurance companies receive payment from everyone who signs up for their coverage, or the person will be dropped from coverage. They are not being forced to provide coverage without receiving payment as you suggest.

  6. 6
    David Duff says:

    “The contractor building the financial management system for Healthcare.gov is being blamed by a Houston hospital for delayed Medicare reimbursements that have caused the hospital to miss payrolls for weeks. Novitas Solutions is the federal government’s new Medicare payment processor for the south-central region of the country hired by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS.)”
    It begins  . . . “Oh, the horror, the horror!”

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Nothing “begins.”

    Medicare contractors and Medicare payments have absolutely nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act. This is a problem which could have happened at any time, under any president. Of course dishonest people such as yourself who are determined to twist the facts to make a political point will continue to spread such misinformation.

  8. 8
    David Duff says:

    Now, now, no need to be rude – and I am *not* dishonest!  For goodness sake relax, this is merely a conversation, not a war! 
    The problem is, and will be, *actuarial*.  If insufficient young, healthy citizens join up and pay their way there will be insufficient money to pay for the treatments of the elderly and sick.  My guess is that the government will not allow the insurance companies to ramp up premiums in order to cover what could be enormous shortfalls, instead they will find some way to provide what might be called ‘General Motors financing’, that is, using federal funds to keep them going because they cannot afford to see insurers go broke.
    I *suspect* (I can’t be certain from this distance) that you are right to suggest that a single-payer system would have been better – in theory, at any rate.  However, let me tell you from experience with our own less-than-beloved National Health Service that there are colossal problems with that system.  Again, I suggest (tentatively) that with a country as huge as the USA a state-by-state-based system would have been more manageable.

  9. 9
    Ron Chusid says:

    Again, the actuarial issues wouldn’t throw the insurance companies into bankruptcy. Rates are set by the insurance companies for one year and are not controlled by the government. Older people to pay higher rates, so it is not as if no money is coming in from premiums to cover them. Plus anyone over 65 or disabled is covered under Medicare and the vast majority are covered by employer plans, so we are only talking about a tiny portion of the insurance market. They are not really at danger of enormous shortfalls, especially when it is year by year. If too few healthy people sign up, the problem would be higher rates next year, not insurance companies going bankrupt. Insurance companies are making huge profits and can survive one year of lower profits. Even if fewer young people sign up than expected, most likely insurance company profits will increase under the ACA.

    When you mention General Motors financing, you are aware, aren’t you, that this was a rare exception and the government is now out of that? Regardless, the problem would not apply to the insurance industry.

    Single payer doesn’t refer to a UK style government-run system, which will probably never happen here. It refers to a private system with government playing the role of sole insurance company in terms of paying bills, more like Canada or Medicare in the United States.

    The system under the Affordable Care Act was intended to be more state-by-state but Republican-run states refused to set up exchanges, leading to the federal government having to do so instead. Single payer by states is a possibility in some states as the Affordable Care Act gives leeway to the states to set up their own program. Some states such as Vermont are looking into a single payer system.

  10. 10
    David Duff says:

    Well, we shall just have to wait and see.
    For what it’s worth, I do believe that in a wealthy and civilised society provision for healthcare should be made for the impoverished.  Alas, like so many good theories, the devil lurks in the detail – as President Obama has found out the hard way!

  11. 11
    Ron Chusid says:

    They definitely were not ready with the web site to sell the exchanges–plus I never saw any need to stress one single way to sell coverage. (I purchased my coverage directly from the insurance company without difficulty–but this would not work for people who qualify for subsidies). They also had an exaggerated view of the good things which computer systems can do and underestimated the potential for problems. Perhaps that comes from their phenomenal success in using computers for targeting voters in their two election campaigns.

    However the problem has also been greatly exaggerated and has minimal bearing on the entire program. The successes so far have far out-weighed this glitch.

    Plus keep in mind that covering the impoverished was not the major issue. The truly impoverished were already covered. The two major needs for the law were to cover working people who could not afford coverage and to cover people who were being denied coverage due to per-existing medical problems (or losing their coverage due to developing medical problems). Medicare will also cover the sickest of them but they have to qualify for disability (prior to age 65) and there is a one year waiting period.

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