Friday, February 25, 2011

Health reform is still the law of the land, though many don’t realize it

A quick quiz. Is last year’s federal health reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) still valid law? You’d think that most people would know the correct answer, yes, it’s still the law of the land.

According to a recent survey, “most people” do know it’s still good law, but only just barely. In fact, only 52 percent of respondents to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll correctly knew that the PPACA is still in effect. An astounding (to me, anyway), 22 percent incorrectly believed that PPACA has been repealed and is no longer law.

Why would they think it’s been repealed? Certainly there’s been a lot of media attention on the recent vote by the House of Representatives to repeal the law. Perhaps people are forgetting what they learned in civics class. As one commentator suggested, maybe it’s time to bring back Schoolhouse Rock and let “I’m Just a Bill on Capitol Hill” help clarify the whole legislative process for a new generation. Of course, as was probably explained on one of those Saturday mornings long ago, a repeal wouldn’t take effect unless both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate, now controlled by the Democrats, also passed repeal legislation and then President Barack Obama signed it.

Do those people who believe that the health reform has been repealed rely on the fact that two federal district courts have declared the individual mandate unconstitutional? (Interestingly, as of now, three federal district courts have ruled that the PPACA’s individual mandate is constitutional but we don’t hear as much about the courts that have upheld it.) Clearly, we have a long way to go until the legality of health reform legislation is settled in the courts.

Or do the respondents who think the law has been repealed just not know? We’ll never know what they were thinking when they answered but I wish the survey had followed up, asking them why they thought that health reform had been repealed. Perhaps someone else will ask this question in another survey.

Additional survey results. The KFF survey had some additional information. For instance, nearly one in three Republican survey respondents thought the health reform law had been repealed. One in four independents and one in eight Democrats thought the same. People with higher incomes as well as those with college degrees were more likely to have an accurate view of the status of the law.

For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the full text of the law and additional information on health reform implementation and other recent developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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