Dems Say Public Support for Obamacare Is Tied to Receiving Gov't Benefits That Republicans Want to 'Take Away'

By Elizabeth Harrington | March 21, 2012 | 11:25 AM EDT

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D.-Ill.)

( – While majority of Americans favor the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law, Democratic members of Congress revealed Monday that they believe the popularity of Obamacare is tied to the benefits Americans will receive from the new entitlement – benefits they say Republicans would have to "take away."

The Democrats also promised that “Truth Squads” will be dispatched in the coming year to battle “misinformation” about the Affordable Care Act, during a telephone conference call to commemorate the law’s two-year anniversary.

“I think the frame in which we’re discussing this two years after its enactment is a bit different because now—when you’re looking at something that’s aspirational, this is what the Affordable Care Act will do for you, but that’s different from saying to 52 million Americans who have already benefited in some way from the Affordable Care Act that this is what we will take away,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said.

“Now it will have to take away benefits,” she said of Republican opposition.

According to the latest Rasmussen poll on March 17-18, 56 percent of Americans favor repeal of the health care law, while 39 percent oppose. However, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus believes support has grown.

“The support for the reform, I think, has grown as people find out that all these myths are exactly that, nothing more than myths,” he said. Becerra pointed to criticism that the reform is job-killing, a government takeover of health care and will bring “death panels.”

“I think as time goes by you find that more and more people are supporting the reform because it’s beginning to apply to them,” Becerra said.

“Seniors find that they have access to preventative care, they have now a system in helping pay for, as we mentioned, the ‘donut hole’ and more and more families who aren’t in Medicare are finding they have access to quality health care, whether it’s for their adult children or whether it’s for their kids who have preexisting conditions and so

The Democrats praised the program’s initial reforms of allowing children to stay on their parent’s health plans until the age 26, covering preexisting conditions and offering “free services” in Medicare like mammograms, cancer screenings and diabetes tests.

“It’s important to know because if they want to take away the Affordable Care Act, then they’re taking away something people are already getting,” said Schakowsky.

But, the lawmakers said, just wait until 2014, when the law takes full effect.  “I think what you’re finding is that Americans are beginning to realize that health care’s affordable, it’s costly to begin with, and anything that helps them afford it is worthwhile and so they’re willing to give the Affordable Care Act a chance,” Becerra said.

“And of course in 2014 when it really comes into play, I think that’s when people will recognize the value of this very hard won victory for affordable health care,” he said.

Since the enactment of Obamacare, however, health insurance premiums jumped 9 percent in 2011 alone, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

But while affirming it is not a government takeover, Becerra praised when the law will take full effect.  “In 2014, if the Supreme Court does justice by the American people, we will be able to include some 30 million more Americans into this coverage,” he said.

Each of the Republican presidential nominee candidates have vowed to repeal the health care law if elected President.  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has called it “a government takeover of health care.”

Another conference call participant, Barbara Easterling, the president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, claims this is the byproduct of a “shameless campaign” waged against Obamacare.

“While the new law makes historic gains for seniors I worry that with all the fear, misinformation and name-calling in today’s political climate not enough seniors know how this law actually helps them,” said Easterling, whose group’s Oregon chapter endorsed a single payer health care law in that state last year.

“Two years later seniors are continuing to be the target of all sorts of scare tactics and lies, misinformation about health reform,” she said.  “The shameless campaign has been bankrolled by the big health insurance companies and other corporations who have for too long made outrageous profits by charging us more and giving us less.

“1 percent of this country got wealthier whenever the other 99 percent of us got sick,” Easterling continued.  “So of course these companies have never wanted health reform, why would they?”

“We cannot allow these important gains for seniors to fall victim to fear and to ignorance,” she said.

The Democratic congressmen also vowed to fight what they call “lies” about Obamacare, and a revamped communications campaign to improve the law’s popularity.

“We’re not going to leave it to chance that the American people understand the importance of the legislation right now and the benefits that are about to come,” said Schakowsky.  “There are public information campaigns that are going to be conducted by groups like the Alliance for Retired Americans, we’re going to be doing ‘Truth Squads’ and people are going to be invited to meetings.”

Schakowsky added: “(W)e feel convinced that telling people what’s good for them is good for them is probably, is a lot cheaper than telling people what’s good for them is bad for them, which is what the Republicans and their funders are doing.”