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Dems And GOP Galaxies Apart On Health Law

If you think public opinion on the new health law has been all over the place, you should try listening to the pollsters.

Three top measurers of what the public thinks – Whit Ayers of Ayers McHenry & Associates, Stan Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners – gathered in a Washington hotel this morning to offer up their preview of what impact the health law will have next week.

And, to quote moderator and Health Affairs Editor Susan Dentzer, “If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then what we’ve heard today is one party is from Andromeda and the other party is from the Milky Way.”

First up, GOP pollster Ayers. Democrats, he said, are “in a lot of denial” about the health law. “Their problem is not their marketing. Their problem is what they did.”

Ayers said as far back as 16 months ago, polls showed clearly that for a majority of not just Republicans and independents, but Democrats, too, “controlling costs was a far higher priority than improving quality or covering the uninsured. Yet month after month, the Democrats did exactly the opposite of what the public wanted.”

Figuring out why the health law “has become such an albatross around the necks of Democrats is not rocket science,” Ayers said.

Currently, he says, “overwhelming majorities believe the health care reform plan will increase their taxes, increase the deficit, increase their health care costs, increase their premiums, and simultaneously hurt the quality of their care. Now I have to tell you, that is a stunning legislative achievement.”

Democratic pollsters Greenberg and Lake, however, begged to differ.

Greenberg pointed out that some Democrats are, in fact, running on some elements of the law. Eliminating “preexisting conditions is immensely popular,” he said. It’s repeal; Republicans would pay an immense price,” he said.

Lake, meanwhile, pointed out that while many people say they dislike the overall law, when people are asked about specific elements, they are much more enthusiastic.

“So this issue that’s supposed to be a disaster is actually working out pretty well for a lot of Democratic candidates,” she said.

Ayers, however, scoffed at that notion. “Moderate and conservative (Democratic) candidates are running away from Obamacare like a scalded dog,” he said.

Unlike the public, however, the pollsters will soon agree on at least some aspects of all this. Ayers and Greenberg are working on a joint survey on the effect of the health law on the election results to be unveiled at Tulane University in two weeks.

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