Yesterday, Ohio voters approved by 66–34 percent an amendment to the state constitution blocking any sort of individual mandate in the state. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that this “strike at President Barack Obama’s health care plan…was ahead by a wide margin even in Cuyahoga County — a traditional Democratic stronghold.” A little over a year ago, Missouri voters likewise rejected ObamaCare’s individual mandate by 71–29 percent.
Supporters typically dismiss such setbacks, including two years of solid public hostility to ObamaCare, by claiming that voters don’t hate the entire law. In fact, they actually like specific provisions. A year ago this month, The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent quoted approvingly a McClatchy‐Marist poll:
Almost six in ten voters — 59% — report the part of the health care law that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage due to pre‐existing conditions should remain law while 36% want it repealed.
Supporters are in serious denial if they still cling to this theory. These overwhelming rejections of the individual mandate are indeed a rejection of the entire law.
Asking people whether they support the law’s pre‐existing conditions provisions is like asking whether they want sick people to pay less for medical care. Of course they will say yes. If anything, it’s amazing that as many as 36 percent of the public are so economically literate as to know that these government price controls will actually harm people with pre‐existing conditions. Also amazing is that among people with pre‐existing conditions, equal numbers believe these provisions will be useless or harmful as think they will help.
But as the collapse of the CLASS Act and private markets for child‐only health insurance have shown, and as the Obama administration has argued in federal court, the pre‐existing conditions provisions cannot exist without the wildly unpopular individual mandate because on their own, the pre‐existing conditions provisions would cause the entire health insurance market to implode.
If the pre‐existing conditions provisions are a (supposed) benefit of the law, then the individual mandate is the cost of those provisions. If voters don’t like the individual mandate–if they aren’t willing to pay the cost of the law’s purported benefits–then the “popular” provisions aren’t popular, either.
Or, as Firedoglake’s Jon Walker puts it, ObamaCare is about as popular as pepperoni and broken glass pizza.