Kaiser Health News: Why public support for health care reform faltered

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A team of reporters from KHN delivers this thoughtful piece. Excerpts:

“There’s nothing in (the proposals) the average person could understand about why your costs would be lower,” says Robert Blendon, professor of health policy at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “They don’t even have good illustrations about how it would be cheaper. They did not find a way to save money for people with job-based insurance.” …

Many of the taxes have been dropped or scaled back. Others have been designed to pressure the health care system to operate more efficiently. But the laundry list of levies has fueled concerns that Americans, struggling with the severest economic slump in decades, would have to pony up more for the tax man.

“The final bill will not have all those taxes in it,” says Blendon, “but people hear about the tax on insurers, the tax on pharmaceuticals, the income tax – and they can’t segregate it in their minds.” Opposition to taxes was a key part of (newly-elected Massachusetts Senator Scott ) Brown’s campaign.

“People don’t like taxes,” says Leslie Norwalk, who was acting director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid during the administration of President George W. Bush. “The electorate is trying to decide what it thinks about this health care stuff, sees the economy is in trouble and a lot of discussion about taxes, but isn’t all that unhappy about their own healthcare. Weighing those two things can be difficult.”

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