GOP pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies has some numbers out today that only reiterate my original contention that yesterday’s election should not be interpreted as a mandate to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And that’s for two reasons: 1) while it’s been first in my heart, reform took a back seat to the economy and 2) Americans didn’t oppose the actual law as much as they opposed the GOP’s version of the law, which as everyone has documented is full of lies and distortions.
As McInturff reports, “[t]he health care advertising could not be clearer to those respondents who recall seeing it in terms of message: 70% say the ad was in opposition to the Obama plan, 8% in support, with another 20% of voters saying they recall advertising on both sides of the issue” (Check out some of these ads here and here):
In other words: the GOP and outside groups funded by corporate interests that include parts of the health care sector have been far more successful in defining the legislation than HHS — even with the help of Andy Griffith. “Opponents of the legislation, including independent groups, have spent $108 million since March to advertise against it” — “six times more than supporters have spent, including $5.1 million by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new law.” That $108 million went to finance the false claims that individuals who don’t purchase coverage will go to jail, or sex offenders will have access to government subsidized Viagara and seniors will lose all their Medicare benefits.
HHS officials should keep that in mind when they’re forced to testify before Congress about implementing the law. It’s another opportunity to re-frame the discussion and tell the public about some key provisions as they go into effect.