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Election Not a Referendum on Health Reform

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Poll data put the lie to anti-reformer claims

The newly-elected Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has been quick to claim a mandate from voters to repeal health reform. Like so many arguments advanced by anti-reformers, this claim isn't supported by the facts. Only 19% of voters in the 2010 election identified health care as their top concern, according to exit polls conducted by CNN. These voters were outnumbered more than 3-to-1 by those who said jobs and the economy was their reason for voting (62%).

Overall, CBS News exit polling found voters evenly divided between those who want health reform repealed (48%) and those who want it to remain in place or in fact to be expanded (47%). When nearly as many voters say they want the law protected or expanded as those who want it gone, that's hardly a mandate for repeal.

Nevertheless, repeal fear-mongers feel emboldened by the GOP takeover of the lower house in Congress. As long as the party that passed the historic legislation still controls the Senate and the White House, repeal isn't going to happen. But the new majority in the House will try to undermine the law anyway, and the coming debate will make clear whose side they're on. "They're for the insurance companies and against consumers," says Ethan Rome, Executive Director at Health Care for America Now:

"The Republicans want to protect the excessive profits of the insurance companies and the bloated salaries of company CEOs, no matter how badly that hurts America's consumers. That's what repeal means. It means rolling back the clock and letting the insurance companies deny people coverage due to pre-existing conditions and drop people's coverage when they get sick. It means that small businesses will continue paying higher rates for health insurance than big corporations. It means repealing measures to cut down waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. It means opposing much-needed relief in prescription drug costs for seniors. That's the Republican repeal agenda - the insurance companies get the profits and we get the shaft."