Steve Chiotakis: One year ago today, President Obama signed health care reform into law. Since then, public opinion hasn’t changed much. And a survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds a majority of people are still confused by the law. It also says only slightly more people want to expand or keep the law than want to repeal it or replace it with something else.
Drew Altman is president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and he’s with us now. Good morning.
Drew Altman: Good morning to you.
Chiotakis: What was the overall message of these results?
Altman: There really has been no meaningful change — we still see half the American people for it and half the American people against it. I don’t think we’re going to see a lot of change until the major provisions of the law are implemented, the guts of the law, and that doesn’t happen until 2014. The other big thing we see in public opinion is just confusion. So more than half of the American people tell us, ‘I still can’t figure this out, and I’m still just very confused.’
Chiotakis: Which part of the law do people like best?
Altman: The coverage expansions, the help people are going to get paying for their insurance policies, and the insurance reforms that eliminate the abuses in the insurance industry. They’re more skeptical that the law will be helpful in terms of controlling overall health care costs in the country. We’re helping them with their own health care costs.
Chiotakis: What do people like least?
Altman: That’s the issue of the individual mandate, which has been most hotly debated and which is the subject of court cases around the country. But I would add to that that when people are told that the individual mandate only applies to people who don’t have health insurance today, then opposition falls dramatically from almost 70 percent to only about a third.
Chiotakis: And you mentioned a bunch of confusion about the law. Is this confusion because people just don’t know? Do you think it’s because of misinformation? Or just because it’s so complicated?
Altman: People don’t live in Washington D.C. and they don’t work on Capitol Hill or in the Department of Health and Human Services, and so it’s really not the time when we should expect the American people to understand the details of the law. And they listen to a debate, and that’s why even today one-third of seniors and even a little bit more than that still think that there are death panels in the law, when there aren’t. So this big burden on the media to be independent and try to make a judgment about what’s important and what’s political manipulation and not be manipulated itself and become part of the process, so I’ll throw it back at you.
Chiotakis: Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Drew, thank you.
Altman: Thank you very much.