It angered conservatives by placing more government control over the health care industry.
It disappointed liberals who remain convinced it didn’t go far enough.
Now Democrats are more likely to promise to protect the law to avoid another possible shellacking in November’s midterm elections.
It’s more popular today, he said, “because it’s done what it was supposed to do.”
Republicans who suggest repealing it these days might quickly issue statements making clear that’s not their current priority.
The tables have turned.
The law is still not exactly wildly popular
And the law is still tainted by partisanship: Most Democrats view it favorably, while most Republicans view it unfavorably, per Kaiser’s polling.
When I asked CNN’s Tami Luhby, who covers health care policy, what changed the public’s mind about the ACA, she said it was almost losing it.
The moment the public bought into the Affordable Care Act
Looking at a graph of Kaiser’s polling, it’s hard not to notice that the ACA has been more popular than unpopular since just about the moment Obama left office.
More than ACA exchanges
There’s a common misconception that only people who buy their insurance on ACA exchanges have “Obamacare.” The number of people buying insurance that way has grown, but more people got insurance from the law because of a massive expansion of Medicaid.
Voters have endorsed Medicaid expansions
Other changes implemented by the law have always been popular, like guaranteeing access to coverage even for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ plans.
“It is woven so much into the fabric of the American health care system that you can no longer rip it out,” Luhby told me.
This is why Republicans fought so hard
CNN political director David Chalian said it might have seemed unimaginable in the divisive atmosphere when the law passed that it would one day become so enmeshed.
“But it was precisely what Republicans did imagine and, in part, why they fought so hard against it — they understood (as did many Democrats) that once you pass a huge government benefit like that into law, it is very, very hard to take it away — they almost always tend to get more popular with time. (See: Medicare)”
Long time coming
The effort to pass the Affordable Care Act lasted for about a year. But the fight over health care in the US has been going on for generations, in fits and starts from the late 1800s through the passage of Medicare in the 1960s, and it continues today.
Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont are still pushing for a government-run health care option for younger Americans, something Biden does not support.
How can anything else get done?
That’s bad news for other issues that need attention, like climate change, which is rapidly changing the world, and immigration, which multiple presidents have tried and failed to address in a major way.
Could the ACA pass today?
It was in fact the same Congress that passed the Affordable Care Act that passed a major piece of climate change legislation through the House. It failed in the Senate.