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By Sean Gorman April 4, 2011

George Allen says the health care bill defies the wishes of Americans

Editor's Note:  This item originally was published as if we fact-checked a direct quotation from Allen. Since the fact-check was focused on his claim about public opinion, we have changed our ruling statement to reflect that.

Featured Fact-check

Republican senate candidate George Allen celebrated the first anniversary of the health-care reform law by posting an irate blog item detailing his objections to the act.

"A year ago today President Obama ignored the objections of the American people and signed into law a $2.5 trillion monstrosity -- one year later, We the People are still being ignored," Allen wrote on March 23.

Allen said the law is a recipe for bigger government and higher debt.

We reviewed dozens of public opinion polls -- from time Obama signed the bill to present -- to see if Allen is correct in stating that the health-care reform law defies the wishes of "We the People."

Katie Wright, Allen’s campaign communications director, pointed us to several polls she said back up her boss’s claim. They included CNN/Opinion Research surveys and Rasmussen Reports polls showing solid majorities in opposition to the law in March 2010 and March 2011. She also included a Rasmussen Survey from March showing 58 percent of people at least "somewhat favor" repealing it.

Other polls during the past year have shown different results, sometimes with people favoring the measure or being evenly split in their support or opposition to it.

There’s certainly no shortage of national polls on health care reform. With little effort, we found 76 online.

Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said he read all the surveys around the time the bill was passed. Although the numbers varied, he noticed a pattern.

"There was a very small majority opposed...just over 50 percent, and there was a substantial minority in the low to mid 40s in favor (of the law)," said Franklin, who is also co-founder of "My caveat is it was a marginal advantage (for opponents)."

Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University, has a slightly different take. He says an averaging out of polls shows no majority opinion -- more than half the population -- existed on the health-care reform bill around the time it passed. But he did find that a larger number of people -- a plurality -- opposed rather than supported the measure.

We took 28 separate poll results listed on that were conducted during March 2010 and found that an average of 42.2 percent of respondents supported the law while 49.9 percent opposed it.

Where do things stand today?

An average of recent polls on the Real Clear Politics website shows 53 percent opposing the law while 38.9 percent supported it. But these are tricky numbers. Not all of the people against the health-care law agree with Allen that the law is a federal overreach.  Some progressives oppose the law because they think it does not go far enough.

CNN/Opinion Research Poll from March 11-13, 2011 found 59 percent opposed the law. But 13 percent said they were against it because it was "not liberal enough." When combined with the 37 percent who favored the law, that means 50 percent of respondents either liked it or wanted something stronger, while 43 percent opposed the act for being too liberal and another 7 percent had no opinion. A survey from CNN/Opinion Research from a year earlier found a similar result.

So an argument can be made that the opposition is not entirely due to conservative ire over what they see as as invasive government.

"Where does the public stand on it now, a year later (after passage)? I would say split right down the middle," Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief said in a video report on the polling organization’s website.

A lingering question is where the country goes from here - keep the law, throw it out, repeal and replace?

Polls show support for certain provisions of the law, such as not denying coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, but opposition for its mandate that people have health-care coverage. .

The average of recent polls on Real Clear Politics indicates a slight majority of respondents show at least some interest in repealing the law.

But a March 2011 survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, provides a more complex picture. It found that 30 percent wanted the law expanded while 21 percent wanted it to stand as is. Another 21 percent want it repealed without replacement  while 18 percent want it repealed and substituted with a Republican alternative.

If you’re curious, the Kaiser survey found a relatively even split on where public sentiment stands on the law. The poll shows 46 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view while 42 percent had a favorable thoughts on the measure.

Let’s review.

Allen said Obama signed the health-care reform law against the will of "We the People," and the American public remains opposed to the law to this day.

At one point in his blog post he even went so far as to say "It is clear to everyone but those in Washington that this is the wrong prescription to fix our health system."

Such statements are far too sweeping; poll averages generally show a sizeable minority favor the law.

You’ll find more opponents than supporters of the measure. But some of the opposition comes from liberals who wanted a more expansive law.

Still Allen is correct to the extent that polls show the law generally stirs more opposition than support.

We rate his claim Mostly True.

Our Sources

George Allen for Senate,  blog post, 3/23/11.

Real Clear Politics, summary of health care reform law poll results, accessed March 27, 2011., summary of health care reform law poll results, accessed March 27, 2011.

Huffington Post, "Health Reform Law: Same Opinions One Year Later,"March 25, 2011.

Interview with Charles Franklin, co-founder of and political science professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 3/29/11.

Kaiser, Health tracking poll, March 2011.

CNN/Opinion Research Polls conducted March 19 2010-March 21,2010 and March 11, 2011-March 13, 2011.

Interview with Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, March 29, 2011.

Interview with Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard University, March 30, 2011.

E-mails from Katie Wright, spokeswoman for the Allen campaign,  March 29, 2011.

Gallup poll, conducted March 18-19, 2011.

CNN article, "CNN Poll: time doesn’t change views on health care law," March 23, 2011.

New England Journal of Medicine, "Health care in the 2010 Congressional election," accessed March 29, 2011.

PolitiFact, The Majority of people in the polls do "not support Obamacare," February 18, 2011.

PolitiFact, Joe Biden says health care approval increasing, July 18, 2010.

PolitiFact, Yarmuth: 40 percent of health care reform opponents say bill doesn’t go far enough,
March 10, 2011.

PolitiFact, Boehner says a majority of Americans oppose health care bill,Jan. 28, 2010.

Politifact, Jarrett claims Obama has majority support for health care plan, November 1, 2009.

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George Allen says the health care bill defies the wishes of Americans

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