Health Reform Views: Most Ordinary Americans Not Budging

BY Jason Kane  July 3, 2012 at 11:50 AM EST


Tea Party activist William Temple protests in front of he U.S. Supreme Court on the day the health care reform ruling was handed down, upholding the law. Read his opinions here and those of other Americans below.

Word has it that Chief Justice John Roberts may have switched views to uphold the health care law, but most other Americans haven’t budged an inch from their initial opinions.

A series of new polls shows that the nation remains bitterly divided in the aftermath of Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

A CNN/ORC poll released Monday shows that 50 percent of the nation agrees with the Supreme Court’s decision and 49 percent opposes it. Reaction was similarly split when the pollsters asked specifically about the so-called individual mandate that will require most Americans to either purchase health insurance or pay a fine — 48 percent favor it and 51 oppose it.

Another survey — this one fielded by the Kaiser Family Foundation — found that 47 percent (including eight in 10 Democrats) approve of the decision and 43 percent (including eight in 10 Republicans) disapprove. But a solid majority of the public — 56 percent — also said they would like to see the law’s opponents stop their efforts to block its implementation and move on to other national problems.

With all the opinion round-ups floating around, we thought we’d add our own to the mix. It’s far from a representative sample, but the NewsHour recently profiled three ordinary Americans whose opinions of health care reform have been shaped by events in their lives. We caught up with each of them after the ruling, and, like almost everyone else in the U.S., their thoughts on the matter haven’t shifted a bit.

Lisa Hill

The mother of a son, Adam, who has struggled most of his life with leukemia, autism and epilepsy, Lisa applauds the Supreme Court decision. If the law goes forward as planned, Adam’s pre-existing conditions will no longer jeopardize his ability to access health care, or send the family’s insurance premiums toward the $100,000-per-year mark. Read their story here and see her reaction below.

>Lisa Hill: The way I feel about it is simple: The Supreme Court decided that my son had a right to live. Period. Without insurance, how do you pay your medical bills? And unlike the fallacy that’s out there — that if you don’t have insurance, you can just go to the emergency room — well, emergency rooms aren’t going to do EEGs on you, or treatments you need for things like epilepsy.

If my son’s leukemia comes back, then emergency rooms aren’t going to give him the chemo that’s needed. Without insurance, how does he get medical care? And without medical care, it’s really a question of when he will no longer be able to survive because he can’t get medical treatment. So when the decision came down, I was just ecstatic.

Ron Castle

Now retired from 33 years of military service and 15 years of teaching, Ron opposes the health care reform law. He worries the Medicaid expansion in particular will lead to more laziness, less productivity and an erosion of Medicare — “a system I need now and one I paid into my entire life” — to help fund the whole thing. Read his story here and see his reaction below.

Ron Castle: Now that SCOTUS has ruled in favor of the Obamacare mandate as a tax, I think we should move on in making the adjustments needed to make it work. I remain very nervous over the government’s ability to manage anything better than private enterprise.

Medicaid is clearly a problem with states already struggling. Those truly in need deserve help but way too much of the needs are self-induced problems. Where is the incentive to be a responsible adult?

We enjoy freedoms like few other countries in history, but with those freedoms come personal responsibility. Far too many don’t get that. Instead, we have a widespread ‘me’ attitude with no sense of responsibility — ‘let someone else pay for it.’

Jeff Aronson

As an EMS volunteer in Maine, Jeff believes the Affordable Care Act’s goal of expanding better health care access to 32 million more Americans is a good one. But he believes the law itself is a far cry from “real health care reform” because it’s built on the idea that three concepts — personal responsibility for health, the health care system, and the health insurance industry — are virtually interchangeable. Much of the current debate is therefore beside the point, he says. Read Jeff’s story here and see his response to the Court’s decision below.

Jeff Aronson: The Supreme Court decision came as a surprise to me, not because it confirmed the legislative right to mandate actions by the citizenry but because of the justifications given by the justices themselves.

The Affordable Care Act still contains the same issues that concerned me before this decision: What do we mean as a society by ‘health’ and what constitutes ‘health care?’ The working assumption all along has been that the core concern is the number of uninsured or weakly-insured people in the U.S. As I suggested earlier, that’s important (I’m one of them), but it should not be the driving force behind a universal health care act. It will certainly be interesting to see what the exchanges and/or the private sector will come up with for health plans.

The Supreme Court decision gives the administration of either party and the Congress a chance to revisit the act itself and work through its omissions and the issues avoided in order to get an act passed.

What are your opinions of last week’s Supreme Court decision? Share them in the comments section below.