Imagine a Congress and a president of the same party working on health insurance reform. They write up a piece of legislation, and it’s not popular. Within two weeks of its introduction in Congress, the bill garners just 41 percent support from the American public, and the opposition party is completely against it. People protest. People yell at lawmakers. The lawmakers pass the bill anyway, and the party and president are summarily punished in the next election: They lose a ton of seats in Congress. That was President Obama, Democrats and the Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010. Minus the passing-the-bill part, that was President Bill Clinton, Democrats and “Hillarycare” in 1993 and 1994 too.
Now imagine a bill that’s even more unpopular, and you have House Republicans’ health care legislation in 2017, the American Health Care Act. The bill is aimed at repealing and replacing parts of the ACA. It’s polling worse than the ACA and the Clinton effort, and history suggests that it could have disastrous consequences for the GOP.
First, the basics: The AHCA is much more disliked than the ACA and Clinton’s health care reform bill were when they were first introduced. Across nine surveys, the AHCA has garnered an average of just 32 percent in favor compared with 45 percent opposed.