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At Age 3, Affordable Care Act Is No Less Controversial

Sat, March 23, 2013 10:18am

Story by Julie Rovner


President Obama signs the Affordable Care Act at the White House on March 23, 2010.

The Affordable Care Act turns 3 on Saturday, and it seems just as divisive as the day President Obama signed it.

"This law expands our competitiveness, promotes wellness and prevention, and enhances the economic security of the middle class," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Friday. "It enables Americans to pursue their dreams, start a business, change jobs or care for their families with the certainty and security of affordable, quality health insurance."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell replied in a statement of his own:

"Three years after Senate Democrats passed Obamacare on a party-line vote, the terrible consequences that Republicans warned about are coming true. It's already costing jobs, health insurance premiums are skyrocketing, government spending on health care is expected to increase dramatically, and millions of Americans are expected to lose the employer-sponsored health insurance they currently enjoy."

Small wonder the latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds the public more confused than ever about the law.

Among other things, the poll found the public less informed about things that are — and are not — part of the law now than when it passed in 2010.

But that might not be such a terrible thing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Shots in an interview earlier this week.

"I must say, if knowing less means they know less of the hostile back-and-forth, that might not be a bad idea," she said. "Because if you think about what they knew three years ago, none of it was very positive. So I think we have an opportunity to reset the stage."

Sebelius said the department would have to make the best of the fact that it did not get the additional funding it sought in the recently passed budget bill that will fund the government — and HHS — for the remainder of the year.

"It's always a difficult situation when the resources are not there at the front end," she said. "I think we are in the process of redoing budgets and looking at ways we can make this effort work. Because, as the president said, this is a top priority. We want everything to be up and running, so we will figure out a way to move forward."

But even as the administration and its partners work to ready the new health exchanges for an Oct. 1 rollout, opponents are not giving up, either. They include Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, who said:

"On this third anniversary, please join with me in continuing to push to repeal this disastrous law."

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