Kaiser Health News
A poll released recently found extensive public confusion about the health care law, with 22 percent of Americans incorrectly believing it has been repealed and another 26 percent unsure or unwilling to say.
The results come after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to repeal the law last month, and two federal judges ruled the law was unconstitutional. After extensive media coverage of these events, only 52 percent of Americans accurately said the health care law, which passed last year, remained intact, according to the poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is a program of the foundation.)
The poll found that unfavorable views of the law among the elderly have risen to 59 percent, up from 40 percent in December. Republican opposition has grown over recent months, to 84 percent, while 66 percent of Democrats remain supportive and independents are divided. Republicans are more passionate in their opposition than Democrats are enthusiastic about the law.
There remains no consensus about whether to keep, expand, replace or repeal the law. Forty-eight percent are opposed to the law, while 43 percent favor it. Sixty-one percent of those polled oppose Congress cutting off funding of the law in order to block it, as many Republican lawmakers are considering.
A majority of the public has not tired of the debate, but there is much more interest in Congress focusing on the economy, jobs and the budget deficit than on the law. Still, 19 percent of voters want to repeal the law and replace it with a Republican alternative, and 20 percent want to get rid of it.
Several of the individual provisions of the law, including subsidies to help the poor buy insurance and eventual elimination of the Medicare “doughnut hole” where seniors don’t have coverage for prescription drugs, remain popular with the majority of the public, regardless of their party affiliation. Sixty-seven percent of Americans want to repeal the requirement that everyone hold insurance.
Nearly one in three Republicans thought the law had been repealed. One in four independents and one in eight Democrats thought the same. People with higher incomes as well as those with college degrees were more likely to have an accurate view of the status of the law.
Though the House has voted for repeal, getting rid of the law still requires the approval of the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama – something that is unimaginable to political observers.
The public had a better understanding of the status of implementation of the law, with 62 percent saying that some but not all of its provisions had been put into place. Only a minority believe the law has affected them, with 14 percent saying they have benefited and 17 percent saying they had experienced a negative impact.
The public isn’t particularly optimistic about the law’s eventual impact: a minority believe the law will make things better for the country, middle class Americans, the elderly, Medicare, the economy or their own family.
The foundation conducted the survey of 1,202 adults between Feb. 8 and Feb. 13. The margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.
Jordan Rau has covered government and health care politics and policy in three state capitols, most recently in Sacramento at the Los Angeles Times.
This article was reprinted from Kaiser Health News with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.