As Republicans gear up to repeal the Affordable Care Act, polls show public opinion to be sharply divided over the landmark health law and what should replace it.
For the first time since the law was approved in 2010, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed support for the ACA exceeding opposition.
The survey, released this week, shows 45 percent of Americans say Obamacare is a “good idea,” compared to 41 percent who call it a “bad idea.”
In addition, 50 percent of poll respondents say they have either very little confidence or no confidence that whatever Republicans put in place instead of the ACA will make things better. Twenty-six percent say they have at least “quite a bit” of confidence in the GOP’s health care efforts, while 23 percent say they have “some” confidence.
Another poll released Sunday by NPR shows public opinion almost evenly divided: 45 percent disapprove of the ACA and 44 percent say they approve of it.
The same NPR poll, however, finds most Americans believe the law has had more positive than negative effects.
Even more striking, 55 percent of those polled say they would prefer a single-payer health care system to the status quo. This suggests many of those who aren’t fans of the ACA do not subscribe to the GOP’s denunciations of the law as a “government takeover.”
Indeed, clearly there are a substantial number of Americans whose beef with Obamacare is that it wasn’t enough of a government takeover.
The polls coincide with a vigorous campaign by Democrats and progressive groups to pressure both Trump and Congressional leaders to back off their vows to repeal Obamacare.
Supporters of the law have held rallies across the country in its defense and flooded Congressional phone lines urging members of Congress to vote against repeal of the law that is credited with providing coverage to more than 20 million.
In another report released by the Congressional Budget Office this week, it is revealed that the removal of the ACA will have huge implications for the national health care system.
Even a partial repeal would lead to 18 million people losing their insurance, and then that number jumps to 27 million after removal of the ACA expansion of Medicaid, according to the report. The CBO estimates by 2026, 32 million Americans will be uninsured if Obamacare is repealed.
Furthermore, the CBO expects premiums to increase — this did already happen late last year, with premiums rising 25 percent in 38 states, a point Trump hit hard in the final weeks of his campaign — between 20 percent and 25 percent in the first new plan year following repeal enactment.
However, “the increase would reach about 50 percent in the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and the marketplace subsidies, and premiums would about double by 2026," says the CBO report.
The divided public opinion is only one of the complications Republicans face as they seek to fulfill their seven-year-old campaign pledge. Major differences of opinion persist among Republicans in Congress about when the repeal should take effect and what the “replacement” plan should look like.
Finally, Trump’s own pronouncements on health care have been ambiguous and seemingly contradictory. Over the weekend he said he is committed to a plan that will guarantee universal health insurance, a promise that many conservatives view as incompatible with their vow to repeal many of what they view as the most offensive parts of Obamacare, such as the individual mandate.