Health Care Debate Has Trust, Politics Themes, Too
Republicans, who were unanimous in their opposition to the law when it passed in 2010 through a Congress then controlled by Democrats, have sought to turn the troubled rollout into a political advantage. In addition to hearings, they have released documents showing administration officials knew of flaws in the main insurance exchange website before it opened. The Democratic National Committee said today it would counter those attacks with a debut of a new website to outline benefits to consumers, a sustained campaign into next years midterm elections, Michael Czin, a DNC spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. For example, Democrats will argue that Republicans would strip people with preexisting conditions of their health insurance because the ACA guarantees them access to coverage, the statement said. Politically Sensitive The DNC also plans to communicate that message on a state-by-state basis, underscoring the political sensitivity of the health-care law. The federal website serves 36 states, including Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania, while 14 states, including New York and California run their own. The state sites for the most part havent encountered the technical problems of healthcare.gov.
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A Quinnipiac University survey of registered voters last month found the share of Americans who thought Obama was honest and trustworthy had fallen 10 percentage points over the fall, to just 44 percent. The health care launch “turned out to have moral dimensions as well as policy dimensions,” says Robert Blendon, a Harvard professor of health policy and political analysis. Obama “really has to restore confidence in himself. He’s got an agenda for the rest of his term here.” And Republicans will be sure to ask at every turn why Americans should take the president at his word on immigration reform or budget policy or any other big issue if he led them astray on health care. THE BIG G The struggle over Obama’s health care law has reinvigorated a debate that’s been going on for centuries and never seems to get settled: the core question of what government should or shouldn’t do for people, and how it should spend their money. For years now, Republicans have displayed remarkable message discipline in zinging the Obama White House for creating a “government-centered health care delivery system,” arguing that the matter would be better left largely to private forces. The failed website sign-up launch generated a whole new round of head shaking about government overreach.
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