Even though the Senate passed the healthcare bill early on Christmas Eve, and despite a recent uptick in support for the overhaul, most Americans remain skeptical about the most sweeping reform of the healthcare system since 1965.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will take effect over the next 10 years and cost $871 billion, would reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 31 million and expand the Medicaid program that covers the nation’s poorest. It also provides low and moderate-income families with subsidies to buy insurance, and offers tax credits to small businesses that provide coverage, according to media reports.
However, in a bid to shore up the fragile partisan consensus behind the bill, the Democratic leaders dropped the public insurance option and included restrictions on abortion coverage against the wishes of most liberals.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) summarized the outcome by saying that "this bill is not a perfect fix to our healthcare problems, but it will put us on the path to a stable and secure healthcare system," while Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky vowed his caucus will continue to oppose the legislation.
Against that backdrop, two recent polls suggest that most Americans disapprove of the proposal. Specifically, the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll puts the number of opponents at 56 percent of respondents, while the survey released by Quinnipiac University estimates 53 percent have an unfavorable view of the bill.
Early next year, Congress will begin its task merging the Senate bill with the $1.1 trillion measure approved by the House of Representatives.