In April of this year the Rasmussen polling group asked Massachusetts residents for their perceptions about the impact of the state’s trail-blazing health care legislation. (Rasmussen Poll) The results could hardly be less encouraging to those working on federal reform. Only 26% of the respondents said the reform was a success; 37% thought it was a failure; the rest weren’t sure. Twenty-one percent said the new program made health care more affordable; while 27% said it made it less affordable. Only 10% thought quality had gotten better; 29% said it was worse; 53% said it was about the same. Republicans were more likely to report viewing the reform negatively than Democrats were, but the Democrats were only evenly split on their overall evaluation of the program. About a third more independents thought the reform was a failure than said it was a success.
Massachusetts residents apparently do not have a positive perception of the effects of the reforms enacted in 2006. Although the program is only in its third year, the public does not yet believe it has improved cost or quality. Since legislators, state and federal, depend on the public to provide the votes to elect and re-elect them; these results are a clear warning to Congresspeople to tread carefully on health care reform. Expectations are high and likely to be easily unmet. It wouldn’t be surprising if many politicians begin to believe the path that arouses the least voter wrath is to do little or nothing.