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Why It Matters that One in Three Americans Doesn't Know Obamacare is the ACA

By Kylie Cheung | Politics | February 7, 2017 |

By Kylie Cheung | Politics | February 7, 2017 |

The Affordable Care Act is arguably an imperfect system, though no one can deny its success in disproportionately uplifting women, people of color, and the poor and infirm, while generally raising the country’s standard of living and increasing the amount of Americans with access to healthcare, a 2016 study by the New York Times revealed. In this sense, it aptly achieved the goals it set out to achieve. Perhaps that’s why you’ll find approval ratings for the ACA are relatively high — or so, that is, until you call it Obamacare.

According to a new Morning Consult poll, roughly 35 percent of the poll’s responders either A) believed the ACA and Obamacare are two totally different pieces of legislation, or B) weren’t totally sure if they were the same. As Death and Taxes notes, disturbingly enough, confusion was most “prevalent among young adults who earn less than $50,000 a year,” aka the “two groups who have significantly come to depend on coverage provided by the ACA.”

The poll additionally found that while around 72 percent of Republicans knew that they were the same thing, less than half of them were aware Medicaid expansion would be eliminated if/when the ACA is repealed.

Next, asked about what they believed would happen after the ACA is repealed, “45 percent did not know that the ACA would be repealed — 12 percent of Americans said the ACA would not be repealed, and 32 percent said they didn’t know.”

Clearly, for all the hype from the Trump camp throughout the campaign season, where doing away with every achievement by the Obama administration was concerned, many were ill-researched, or just plain oblivious of and ungrateful for all that Obama’s policies provided them with. Perhaps that’s why states with the most people reliant on the ACA voted Trump. Much is made of hearing out all sides, listening to everyone, and so on and so forth. But ultimately, how can any productive dialogue be had when those on the other side of the aisle are so steadfast in their refusal to research and accept matters of objective fact? When those on the other side of the aisle have literally experienced in their everyday lives the benefits of the policies you support, and still remain faithful to lawmakers who will never pass up an opportunity to harm them?

Perhaps to a strong extent, Republican attempts to dismantle Obamacare are fueled by economic concerns and, of course, the desire to throw the poor and sick under the bus as Republican lawmakers historically always have. But perhaps more than anything, their zeal for repealing a program that has helped so many Americans is fueled by their petty hatred of one man (President Obama) and the progress and values he represents.

To Republicans, hatred of one singular man is justification enough to destroy the lives of 30 million Americans, to allow roughly 36,000 Americans to die every year. And where is the outrage? Or will there be none so long as Republican lawmakers continue to deceive their supporters, many of whom benefit from or outright rely on Obamacare, into perceiving attacks on Obamacare as attacks on Obama and not attacks on them?

Don’t be deceived: the push to repeal Obamacare is, more than anything, about dismantling Obama’s legacy. And in and of itself, perhaps that’s fine; that’s just what American politics is, what the root of the two-party system, what the presidency is. But why should this petty game come at the expense of 30 million Americans? It’s uniquely cruel that Republicans should move forward on this, knowing full well that many of those who will suffer are their own faithful supporters.

At the end of the day, that is the significance of perceiving the Affordable Care Act not as the Affordable Care Act but as Obamacare. Perhaps the pathological tendency of Republican lawmakers to politicize and polarize something as basic and human as the need for healthcare will cost them nothing as individuals, but as demographics of the states that voted for Trump and the states most dependent on the ACA reveal, their zeal will hurt more than anyone else those who naively back them.

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