Public wants government out of health care

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Years ago, most Americans believed the government should be responsible for everyone having health insurance.

Of course, that was before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law. And that was before continuous news of problems plaguing the law.

New Gallup numbers reveal 56 percent of adults now say it’s not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have health insurance, a record high.

The number of Americans who said it is the federal government’s responsibility peaked at 69 percent in 2006. That number has now fallen to 42 percent.

Gallup noted, “attitudes began to shift significantly in 2007, and continued to change through the time President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Americans who feel health care coverage is not the federal government’s responsibility have been in the clear majority the past two years.”

That attitude is most prevalent among Republicans and independents, but still has shifted among Democrats, researchers said.

Now, 30 percent of Democrats think the government shouldn’t be responsible for the public’s health care, its highest level since Gallup first asked the question and an 11-point increase since 2000.

Republicans’ attitudes against federal interference have jumped substantially — 33 percentage points in 13 years. In September 2000, 53 percent of Republicans believed the government shouldn’t be responsible for ensuring all Americans had health coverage; today, 86 percent feel that way.

Though Gallup noted the shift in attitude toward the government’s role in health care began before PPACA passed, researchers said the sharp change has been caused by a politicization stemming from the health care overhaul.

“The continuing implementation of [PPACA] over the coming months and years will surely continue to shape Americans’ attitudes toward the federal government’s role in this area. It is not clear how the ACA’s troubled rollout to date will affect attitudes over the next year,” Gallup researchers noted. “But as the debate about the implementation of the new health care law has unfolded, Americans have become less likely than ever to agree that the federal government should be responsible for making sure that all Americans have health care.”

The latest numbers from Gallup regarding the government’s role are in tandem with PPACA’s approval ratings. While support generally has been divided since the law’s passage, Gallup last week reported that support for PPACA has dropped to 40 percent, while 55 percent say they disapprove of the law.

The 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval of PPACA is the largest Gallup has ever measured.

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