The 2010 health care reform law has been as controversial as any piece of American legislation in recent memory. Although numerous polls have been conducted on the public's views of the reform, we do not know much about how citizens evaluated the policy alternatives. Are citizens more focused on how policy affects them personally or how it affects the nation as a whole? Further, are these evaluations made more on the basis of past experience or assessments of how the policy will affect the future? Using an original survey of public opinion administered during the 2009 congressional debate, we examine how these evaluative dimensions (and several other factors) shaped public support for overall reform, for associated policy goals, and for available policy tools. We find evidence that retrospective and prospective collective evaluations mattered most, as did personal prospective assessments, but evidence on personal retrospective factors is somewhat mixed.

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