Polling trends 2017: Healthcare up and Trump still down

CNN has a list of seven polling trends showing what they consider significant and worth review as 2017 lurches to an end. Two caught my eye: the first because it’s always good to be reminded of Trump’s low poll numbers, and the second may be useful to keep in mind as the healthcare drama plays out here in Vermont.

Trump’s job approval hit record-breaking lows in 2017. Like a bad hair piece and the allegations of Russian involvement in his campaign, historically low approval ratings have stuck to Donald since he took office last January.down with trump

Trump’s quarterly approval numbers are some of the lowest since Gallup began tracking them for presidents — falling in the 11th percentile of out of 288 presidential quarters tracked by Gallup over the last half century. That ranking probably is not a surprise to anyone securely attached to reality, yet Trump continues to insist (i.e., to lie) that his approval numbers are similar to what Obama’s had been at year one in his presidency.

The other CNN trend that caught my attention regards the ACA’s, aka Obamacare’s, rise in popularity even as Trump and the GOP waged all out war against it. Obamacare hasn’t had a net negative favorability rating at all this year, according to polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a stark change from its stretch of negative ratings early in 2016 and most of the prior five years. ACA popularity

The most recent numbers show […] a 50% favorable and 46% unfavorable rating, though the positive gap has climbed as high as 13 points in August.

 Keep that popularity increase in mind as we grapple with the healthcare issue in Vermont. VPR reports that Senate president pro tem Tim Ashe (D/P), Green Mountain Care Board chairman Kevin Mullin and Governor Scott’s Secretary of the Agency of Human Services (AHS) Al Gobeille fear the elimination of the national mandate will cause premiums to spike,making them unaffordable. As GMCB chairman Kevin Mullin explained to VPR: That’s because he says anyone who drops their coverage will still receive medical treatment if they get sick, and the cost of this care can be shifted over to private insurance policies. As a result of this worry state leaders are looking at a possible state mandate to carry health insurance and possibly a penalty fee .

At the federal level it worked like this– If you could afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, you would pay a fee called the individual shared responsibility payment (the fee  sometimes called the “penalty,” “fine,” or “individual mandate”). You pay the fee when you file your federal tax return for the year you don’t have coverage.

What happens in 2018 when Governor Scott’s so called “affordability agenda” of low fees and taxes runs head-first into healthcare cost increases driven by his own party’s national and local anti-Obamacare fanatics? It’s anyone’s guess whether Phil will want to summon the political will to support maintaining affordable healthcare for Vermonters – including a state healthcare mandate – or will he sit back and watch the costs spike.

When the stethoscope meets the so-called affordability agenda, will Scott show heretofore missing leadership skills? Let’s not hold our breath while we wait.

2 thoughts on “Polling trends 2017: Healthcare up and Trump still down

  1. It’s a problem when the same people who don’t want to force Americans to buy health insurance, do want provisions that prevent life-time caps, allow kids to stay on their parents insurance until age 26, and ban discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. Such provisions (the carrots) lead to severe adverse selection in insurance markets unless they are accompanied by strong incentives for insurance enrollment (the sticks). By repealing the individual mandate and retaining the ACA insurance protections, the Republicans are defying rules of both human behavior and economics.

    Why not establish a different kind of penalty in Vermont that increases with the length of time out of the market? Medicare has this kind of penalty for late enrollment in the prescription drug benefit, which is voluntary. Beneficiaries who wait to enroll pay an additional 1 percent in their premium for every month that they were not enrolled in a plan. This late enrollment penalty is permanent.

    Or, how about automatic enrollment, which has the potential to decrease the number of people who are uninsured, without relying on penalties like the individual mandate? In a policy paper from the Bipartisan Policy Center published Aug. 30, health care experts recommended that Congress study whether auto-enrollment could replace the mandate without reducing coverage rates, increasing premiums or adding to the federal deficit.

    If Scott shows that he can handle health insurance responsibly, maybe his preference for a state-wide contract for insurance for teachers would be viewed somewhat more favorably. My own “affordability agenda” has me paying reasonable health insurance premiums and my fair share of taxes to keep my fellow Vermonters healthy, educated and living in a safe environment in a sustainable way. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

    1. There are, as you mention options to explore regarding a healthcare mandate.But so far Scott isn’t showing any signs of shifting or being forced from his comfort zone of caution. I wonder if he would take an out of character risk on healthcare if it would increase chances his goal of state-wide teacher insurance might come to pass.

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