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As the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches, along with Supreme Court arguments on its constitutionality, some Democrats are aggressively defending the law, essentially daring Republicans to repeal President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.
The House will vote today on whether to repeal a provision of the health care law that established an Independent Payment Advisory Board, and the floor was rife Wednesday with partisan potshots regarding the law.
But as the overall law continues to be unpopular in public opinion polls, some Democrats have offered a new argument: that Republicans' efforts to repeal the law will actually save it.
Bill Burton, a former White House aide who heads the super PAC Priorities USA, said the closer Republicans get to repealing the law, the more it will awaken the fury of those receiving its benefits.
"If you're a voter, do you want your kid to be kicked off of your health insurance because they're too old for it after they graduate from college? Do you want a health system where people can be kept off of health insurance because of a pre-existing condition — which can include pregnancy, for example?" Burton asked.
"If you talk to people about 'Obamacare' with the negative connotations, you get one result," House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said. "When I talk to people about getting rid of discrimination because of pre-existing conditions" and other benefits, "then it's overwhelming approval."
The law's unpopularity has vexed Democrats, who marvel that its benefits — many of which are popular on their own terms — aren't driving up the approval rating as they are implemented by the administration.
"We need to do a better job of explaining how this impacts people in their daily lives. Millions of Americans are already benefitting without recognizing that those benefits flow from the Affordable Care Act. So we need to connect the dots," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said.
An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted March 7-10 found that Americans oppose the law overall, 52 percent to 41 percent. Forty-two percent said the Supreme Court should strike down the entire law, while 25 percent said only the individual mandate should be struck down. Only 26 percent said the entire law should be upheld by the court.
The survey of 1,003 adults, whose findings were consistent with other surveys, had a 4-point margin of error.
"When you're looking at something that's aspirational ... that's different from saying to 52 million Americans who have already benefitted in some way from the Affordable Care Act, that this is what we will take away," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) tried to place the law in a historical context.