The president has long assured critics that once the reforms are fully enacted, the public will embrace them. Yet, while voters gave Obama a second term in November, polls show they are wary of the looming changes. A Rasmussen poll last month showed that nearly half of the respondents expect the health care system "to get worse over the next couple of years."
The individual mandate, a key provision that requires all people to buy insurance or pay a penalty, won’t kick in until 2014. But states are already creating insurance exchanges and enrolling residents. Higher taxes on medical devices, capital gains and dividends rose on Jan. 1 as a result of the health care reforms.
Some businesses are already altering their hiring practices to prepare for the looming changes. Any company with more than 50 full-time workers must offer health insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week, so employers are moving more workers to part-time status.
"This has now shifted to being a practical deadline," said Edmund Haislmaier, a senior research fellow on health policy studies at the Heritage Foundation. "We have nine months before this goes live. If you’re not ready, the wheels really start to fall off."