Americans are divided over the question of how best to reform a dysfunctional healthcare system.
But the new Republican majority in the US House of Representatives entertains no doubt about what must be done: the for-profit insurance industry must be restored to its "proper" place as the determiner of who gets care—and how much they will have to pay.
In the first major vote of the new Congress, the House voted 245-189 in favor of repealing the modest healthcare reforms implemented last year.
All 242 House Republicans voted for repeal, as did three Democrats.
All 189 "no" votes were cast by Democrats.
House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republican caucus leaders claimed that the vote represented the will of the American people.
But did it?
Survey research suggests that, while Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of healthcare reform, they are not sure the reform cobbled together by President Obama and the last Congress is the proper fix. According to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, the country is divided three ways: 33 percent for complete repeal of the measure adopted last year, 35 percent for partial repeal and 30 percent for no repeal.
A new poll conducted for Associated Press finds that "strong opposition to the law stands at 30 percent, close to the lowest level registered in…surveys dating to September 2009."
All the surveys suggest that the American people are deeply divided with regard to the debate about repeal—not feverishly determined to scrap the existing law, as so many House Republicans are claiming as they argue this week in favor of a symbolic repeal vote.
But those "headline" numbers don’t begin to tell the whole story, however.
What about the tens of millions of Americans who are dissatisfied with the current law but who recognize that the whole debate about repealing it is a political show primarily designed to satisfy talk-radio hosts while exciting insurance-industry campaign donors?
The Americans who oppose repeal but who refuse to buy into the fantasy that the healthcare system has been sufficiently reformed are right. And there are a lot of them. According to the Associated Press poll, 43 percent of Americans want the government to do more to re-engineer the existing healthcare system.
That’s millions more than favor the repeal proposed by Republican leaders.
That level of support for more radical reform is the great untold story of the current debate.