Affordable Care Act: Where Are We On Its Fifth Anniversary?

When Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, they knew it wasn’t popular — poll after poll showed pluralities, if not majorities, opposed to the legislation after the bruising national fight that led to its passage. But Democrats had a theory about the law: as time went on, and Americans started to gain coverage, the law’s favorability would rise.

“As that bill is enacted, it’s going to become more and more popular,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) predicted on Meet the Press in March 2010.

“I think that [the law] over time is going to become more popular,” David Axelrod, then a senior adviser to President Obama, declared in September.

Five years later, it’s fair to declare that prediction dead wrong: 83 percent of Americans still hold the same opinions they did in 2010. And of those who have changed their minds, 58 percent of them have become more negative toward the law, a new Vox poll conducted by PerryUndem shows.

If there’s any area of consensus, it’s in misperceptions of the law: 82 percent of Americans either say the price tag has gone up, or aren’t sure (the law’s price has actually decreased as compared with initial estimates), and only 13 percent know the law met its first-year enrollment goals.

Taken overall, the poll paints a frustrating picture for Democrats: most Americans aren’t changing their opinion; those who are have mostly become more negative; and some widely held beliefs about the Affordable Care Act are far from accurate.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary