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Health Care Reform Still Unpopular On Deadline Day



With less than 24 hours left for Americans to begin the process of signing up for health insurance on HealthCare.gov, the site was down for maintenance part of Monday morning to deal with what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said was a software bug unrelated to expected volume.

The site undergoes regular maintenance during overnight hours, which were extended an additional four hours into Monday morning. People seeking to purchase health insurance can still reach the call centers.

By 9 a.m., the site was back up and running. HHS is anticipating heavy use Monday as last-minute shoppers look for insurance. The administration has said that anyone who began the sign-up process by the deadline will be allowed to finish enrolling after it has passed.


The Fight Rages.....
Just as enrollment doesn't close for good on Monday, the fight over Obamacare will hardly be settled by the coming and going of the end of the month. Opposing the health care law is still the status quo among Republicans, and there are no signs they'll stop trying to hang the issue around Democrats' necks during the upcoming midterm elections.

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said on "Fox News Sunday" that the administration is "cooking the books" on the enrollment numbers, which were meaningless.

"Once all of this is said and done, what kind of insurance will those people actually have? Will they be able to keep the doctors that they want? How much more is it going to cost them?" Barrasso asked.

He's not alone. The Republican National Committee stands ready to poke holes in any measure of success the administration might claim, warning that it hasn't attracted sufficient numbers of uninsured Americans or young people, that the enrollment figures don't represent people who have paid for their new plans, and charging that the administration has not been forthcoming about the penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income that people who don't sign up for insurance will have to pay.

 

Democrats are attempting to focus their midterm election message on ways to improve income inequality, but the passage of the Obamacare enrollment deadline may only offer a brief respite from the storm. In less than two months, insurers must submit their 2015 rate proposals to government regulators, which could lead to a fresh firestorm of criticism if those increases are too high. One company, WellPoint Inc., said it might see increases of double digits in its plans earlier this month. That's much more than the "less significant" increases Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said might occur when she testified on Capitol Hill this month.

If WellPoint's predictions are correct, it would prove disastrous for Democrats just months before the midterm elections -- especially vulnerable lawmakers who are under heavy fire for their support of the law.

And when Americans file their 2014 tax returns in 2015, the people who have chosen not to sign up for insurance will also find out just how high the penalty is, which could spark another round of frustration with the law just as Democratic presidential candidates are getting their campaigns under way.

Even with the passage of the deadline, the era of Democrats worrying about the law is far from over.

"They can hope that the economy improves greatly between now and then. That's about the only thing that's going to take the focus off of that," said Cook Political Report National Editor Amy Walter on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday

Overall disapproval of the law has remained fairly steady throughout the open enrollment period, making it unlikely the law will see an uptick in popularity once the deadline passes. People who disapprove of the law also feel more strongly, making them more likely to show up for lawmakers who want to alter or repeal the law.

Four years after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted, the deadline (albeit somewhat fluid) to sign up for health exchanges is here, and a majority of Americans continue to oppose the law: 53 percent disapprove, while 41 percent approve, according to the latest CBS News Poll.

Since the law was passed in March 2010, more have consistently disapproved than approved of it. Public support has never reached the 50 percent mark.

 

In an attempt to enroll healthier people into the health are exchanges, the Obama administration has been targeting young adults to sign up, but what do they think of the law?

Well, they don't like it so much.

Despite young Americans' overall support for President Obama (48 percent approve of the job the president is doing - the highest of any age group, 60 percent say he's a strong leader, and a slim majority even approve of his handling of health care as an issue), they are not enthusiastic about the ACA: 42 percent approve of it, but more (50 percent) disapprove -- opinions were similar in January. Young Americans' views on the health care law do not differ much from those who are older.

 

Like Americans overall, young people support many elements of the ACA (coverage of pre-existing conditions, standards for health plans), but are strongly opposed to the individual mandate requiring nearly all Americans to get health care coverage. 66 percent disapprove of it, according to a December CBS News/New York Times poll.

Cost is a concern. That same poll also found that while a majority (53 percent) of Americans under age 30 thinks getting health insurance may improve the quality of their health, three in four (76 percent) say getting that coverage will hurt them financially.

After the much-publicized troubled roll-out of HealthCare.gov, young people hold negative perceptions of how the signup on the exchanges is going - just 26 percent think the process is going well in the recent CBS News poll, while 39 percent don't think it is.

But do these negative opinions mean younger Americans won't sign up? Not necessarily. Late last year, CBS News and the New York Times surveyed uninsured Americans and found 56 percent of the uninsured said they planned to get insurance, including 61 percent of those Americans under age 30. A third, however, said they'll pay the fine.


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