Most expect court to rule against individual mandate

Those who disfavor health reform most likely to say its unconstitutional

U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington U.S. Supreme Court Building, Washington

Yet another poll confirms most Americans find the individual mandate provision of President Obama’s health reform to be unconstitutional.

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds half of all Americans (51 percent) think the Supreme Court should rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, and about the same number (53 percent) expect the justices to do so.

Those numbers also shed light on who views what in terms of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in general.

Those who favor the health reform law say two-to-one (50 percent to 26 percent) that the court should uphold the mandate, and those who oppose the law say twelve-to-one (83 percent to 7 percent) that it should strike the mandate down.

But overall, the public doesn’t see the individual mandate as the anchor of the entire law. A good majority (62 percent) think other parts of the law will still be implemented if the court rules the mandate unconstitutional, compared to 28 percent who say such a ruling will scuttle the whole effort. The poll also finds substantial public skepticism toward the court; about as many people say the justices’ ideological views will play a major role in their decision (51 percent).

The findings come just weeks before the high court is set to hear oral arguments of legal challenges to the health reform law, which turns two years old on March 23 and over which public opinion has been chronically divided.

Still, it seems the public isn’t all that familiar with the legalities of health reform.

Americans have not yet tuned in to the high court case, with more than six in 10 saying they aren’t following it closely. And many are confused—42 percent either think the court has overturned the law or do not know whether it has.

Six in 10 Americans say they don't have enough information to understand how the law will impact them personally, almost identical to the 56 percent who said so shortly after passage in 2010. With many provisions not taking effect until 2014, two-thirds of the public say they do not feel they have been concretely affected by the law one way or the other thus far.

What they do know is where they stand on it—and that’s almost perfectly split. This month, 41 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the law, while 40 percent hold an unfavorable one. That’s not much different from the 46 percent who favored it and 40 percent who didn’t in April 2010. Opinions divide sharply along partisan lines, with Republicans disliking the law (75 percent have an unfavorable view this month), Democrats favoring it (66 percent favorable) and independents more divided (40 percent favorable vs. 42 percent unfavorable).

“The public’s views on the health reform law mirror the partisan and ideological divide in the country, and the public’s views on the Supreme Court case do too,” says Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman. “People either like or do not like the ACA, but they have not weighed the legal issues before the Court.”

More coverage on the individual mandate from BenefitsPro




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