Number Of Americans Who Want Universal Government Health Care Has Plunged

Sarah Hurtubise | Reporter

After several years of Obamacare, the number of Americans that think the government should provide universal health coverage has dropped precipitously.

According to a study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, in 2006, 69 percent of Americans thought it was the government’s responsibility to make sure that everyone has health insurance. That has fallen swiftly over the past decade — today, only 47 percent believe it’s within the government’s purview to do so.

The fall is most dramatic when only likely voters are taken into account. Among those who are likely to vote in the midterm elections next week, just 25 percent believe the government should be handing out health coverage.

Obamacare stops short of universal coverage — although many on the left wanted to push harder for a single-payer health care system, like Medicare, for Americans of all ages. But after four years of Obamacare as law and one year of it in practice, the public has become even unfriendlier to more government intervention in health care.

And in the current climate, it’s possible Obamacare may not even live on in its current form. The health-care law is enduringly unpopular — a third of country continues to favor its repeal, according to a poll released in the study. Another 23 percent want to see significant changes to the law.

The study’s author, Robert Blendon, noted the significant negative campaign against Obamacare — $418 million on 880,000 negative ads between the law’s passage in 2010 and this past May. That the campaign against Obamacare has lasted after the law was passed is unprecedented, according to Blendon.

When Medicare was passed, the big campaign came before the health law passed, not after. A clue to the difference may be what little was known about the health-care law before it was passed — even by members of Congress voting on the bill.

And even four years later — with a president still in office who would certainly refuse to sign a bill repealing his namesake health-care law — Obamacare is still motivating voters. Blendon noted one poll which found that 73 percent identified health care as an extremely or very important issue in their voting decision.

Of those respondents, almost half said Obamacare was the dominant health care issue they’re concerned with. Another 14 percent named Medicaid, which is closely tied in with the health-care law, which allows states to expand Medicaid programs significantly; 25 percent cited Medicare.

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