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Friday, January 18, 2019

Americans have an increasingly negative view of Obamacare, but they still strongly oppose Republican efforts to repeal it, according to the latest tracking poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

The survey finds that a 53 percent majority of Americans view the Affordable Care Act unfavorably (an 8 percent jump from one month ago), 37 percent view the law favorably — a number that has hardly changed since March — and 11 percent don’t know, or declined to offer an opinion.

Kaiser Chart 1

Unsurprisingly, a stark partisan split remains on the controversial law. Democrats view the ACA favorably, 62 to 25 percent, while Republicans view it unfavorably, 82 to 12 percent. Independents also take a negative view of the law, 59 to 31 percent.

Misinformation is likely playing a major role in the public’s disapproval of the ACA. Four years after it became law, the majority of Americans still don’t realize that the ACA offers consumers a choice between private health plans — 26 percent mistakenly believe that the newly insured are enrolled in a single government plan, while 38 percent aren’t sure what the law dictates.

Kaiser Chart 2

Additionally, Americans are much more likely to hear negative news about the law than to hear positive reports. That trend holds true both for Americans’ personal conversations about health care, and the ads they see on television.

Kaiser Chart 3

Still, despite the public’s lingering discontent over the law, the poll makes it clear that Americans are not on board with Republicans’ promise to repeal it. In fact, the “repeal and replace” option is even less popular than Obamacare itself.

Kaiser Chart 4

And Americans don’t just disagree with Republican promises to repeal the ACA, but they’re also sick of hearing about it — 29 percent say that the president and Congress are paying too much attention to health care, which placed it first among the 11 issues polled. According to the poll, the public would rather government turn its attention to health care for veterans, the economy and jobs, the federal budget deficit, education, Social Security, immigration, taxes, climate change, or the situation in Iraq.

In other words, Republicans may have succeeded in turning Americans against President Obama’s signature legislative achievement — but it’s unclear that they’ll be able to gain any electoral advantage from it.

AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski

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35 responses to “Obamacare Is Less Popular Than Ever, But Americans Still Oppose Repeal”

  1. Dominick Vila says:

    In my opinion, the opinion of a majority of Americans on this issue is influenced by the failure of the Obama administration to articulate and demonstrate the benefits of the Affordable Care Act in simple terms.
    The administration has allowed the GOP, and special interests, to dominate the debate and it is paying a heavy price for their ambivalence or reliance on the ability of the general public to form opinions based on fact.
    Interestingly, the results of this survey or poll, suggest that most Americans intuitively understand that the new program can be beneficial to our population at large, but have been convinced that at least some facets of the program require change.
    I think it is important to remember that for most Americans the ideological concepts that are so important for those on the fringes, are of little interest for centrists, whose opinion is, more often than not, influenced by evidence and a clear understanding of an issue. With this is mind, the negative opinions of ACA will continue to exist, until someone decides to explain its benefits to the general public, and has the courage to make the changes that are required to make it acceptable for most of us.
    Unfortunately, the political climate that dominates debate in the United States nowadays make it almost impossible to make progress on any issue, including those that would improve our standard of living, our health, and even our competitive posture.

    • highpckts says:

      I fail to understand why the Dems are so timid on things that really matter to them!

      • Dominick Vila says:

        I share your sentiment. The only thing I can think of is that in an effort to look presidential, or establish a contrast between the incendiary conservative rhetoric and the preferred Dem form of governance, Democratic party politicians and strategists rely on the good judgment of mainstream Americans to win elections.

        • highpckts says:

          Except that the incendiary rhetoric is sooo loud that people can’t help but listen!! I guess we need to be LOUD!!

          • Dominick Vila says:

            Sometimes I think we should be as loud as they are, and use the same ruthless tactics they use so successfully, but I always end up remembering that emulating crooks, deceivers, and opportunists would make us no better than they are. We definitely have to be more assertive, and clear on things that are important to us. The ACA is one of them.

          • highpckts says:

            Assertive! How do we do that without sounding like them? We are damned if we do and damned if we don’t!

          • Independent1 says:

            And shouting to the roof tops about how great ACA would is would not buy us a thing – Americans gravitate to the negative news, not the positive. They remember the bad things that happen, and quickly forget the good things.

            It’s not going to be until more and more Americas see for themselves the good things ACA is bringing that the message will get across. And people need to remember that’s going to take time especially because 24 states have refused to expand medicaid and really bring the benefits of ACA to the residents of their state.

          • Allan Richardson says:

            If Americans respond better to the negative, then we need to emphasize the negative results of RETURNING to the status quo ante (for those who don’t know Latin that means “the mess we WERE in”). The death toll of pre-ACA lack of insurance has been estimated as between 27,000 and 45,000, depending on how specific patient histories are interpreted. Comparing this to terrorism, what if the 9/11 attack were REPEATED between 9 and 15 times EVERY YEAR? That would be the number of people dying unnecessarily before the ACA, or after its possible repeal. And a substantial fraction of those people have NOT been able to get insurance DESPITE the ACA, because of obstruction of the Medicaid expansion in so many “red” states, so they will CONTINUE to die until the people of those states pressure their politicians to fix this. Furthermore, even people who are able to purchase insurance with the tax subsidies, but not without them, may lose their insurance if the Supreme Court decides that a typo in the text of the ACA means that the federally run exchange cannot authorize the tax credits!

            And this death toll does not even count the “loss of productivity” toll caused by patients unable to get care to alleviate disabilities so they can get a job, or a better job. And it does not count the HARM TO THE ECONOMY caused by closing hospitals (we have just heard that Emory-Adventist Hospital in Smyrna, Cobb County, Georgia will close on October 1 this year; yet we “seem” to have enough to go into hock for almost a billion dollars to GIVE the Braves a new stadium).

          • Independent1 says:

            I agree completely. We need Democrats who can get the positive message across by highlighting the negatives that either the GOP is creating via their misguided governance; or by identifying the disasters that will begin happening again if we allow the GOP to undo what’s been accomplished (as you pointed out); or by letting Americans know about the good things that have happened by having reduced the negatives; for example,

            Many Americans are dying because hospitals have been closing in a number of red states because the GOP has refused to expand Medicaid which has driven a number of hospitals out of business. These Americans are dying because they now have too far to drive to get hospital care in an emergency, e.g., auto accident,; while in contrast, in states that have expanded Medicaid, some hospitals are actually seeing profits, which had previousl always relied upon the federal government subsidies to stay in business.

          • Independent1 says:

            Dominick, I don’t really think it’s a matter of loudness. Obama has brought out numerous positives about ACA but the American people don’t really take in positives.

            The Dems could go on and on about all the great things on ACA, but the vast majority of Americans would either not take in what’s said or forget quickly the positive and grab onto the 1st negative that the GOP can drum up.

            I’ve actually come across articles which claim that media outlets have actually refused to carry some positive stories that people have written about ACA – and why? Because it’s negative news that sells not positive news.

            It’s the handful of people whose premiums have jumped up that people remember, not the thousands whose premiums have been cut in half.

            It’s the sick person who claims their insurance company dropped their policy just when they needed it most that people will remember, not the thousands of people who were able to get health insurance for the 1st time in their lives.

            The Democrats can stump all they want to about how great ACA is, but Americans aren’t going to listen unless ACA actually causes something positive to happen within their lives or the lives of people they socialize with. It’s just going to take time for the positives to happen and the message to get across.

          • highpckts says:

            I agree but their are other things that are happening that are positive with this Presidency that gets on page 9 of the newspapers! The GOP says all media is Liberal! I sure haven’t seen that! Our local paper is definitely Republican! The local paper where my Dad lives in FL. is very definitly Republican. Nothing is printed in that paper that is Liberal! So aside from the ACA anything else doesn’t get coverage either!

          • plc97477 says:

            How are dems going to be loud? We don’t have a real voice. Palin may think we have a liberal media but there is not one. And without a voice the word can’t get out.

          • essbird says:

            Amen. Our “lamestream” media are owned by large, international entertainment conglomerates.

          • Independent1 says:

            Exactly!! And there’s another problem – the media, whether liberal or conservative will focus on NEGATIVE news because that is what sells.

            The Dems could broadcast all the good news they want to, and because it’s all positive, the vast majority of the good news ACA brings will be either not listened to by the average America, or it will be forgotten almost as quickly as its heard, and what will be remembered are the handful of negatives that the GOP can drum up about ACA.

  2. howa4x says:

    The problem always with the repeal mantra is what are you going to replace it with? Republicans seem to shy away from that conversation because they have no alternative plan. Plus the whole concept of people having to purchase private insurance goes to their core beliefs and is rooted in market based capitalism. It is not that the republicans are against this plan, since it was 1st tried by a republican in Mass. They don’t like the name associated with any success of it. What republican can be in favor of any idea or program when the name Obama is attached to it. So if 60% are seeing the president in an unfavorable light than a healthcare plan bearing his name will also be seen that way. So until the republicans can present a competing plan to solve the healthcare crisis, people won’t give up what they have, for the unknown. So the dilemma for republicans is when they say they want to fix it the question becomes how, and what are the changes and how do they benefit me and my children? Until they can answer those they should change the national conversation to something else.

  3. plc97477 says:

    The problem with these polls is they do not split the “hate the law” folks and the “wish it went further” folks. When they start, if they start, to do that we may find the polls are completely different.

    • irishtap says:

      I agree completely.

    • Independent1 says:

      And in viewing the polls, people need to keep in mind that a lot of the folks with negative views on ACA most likely live in the 24 states that have not expanded Medicaid and which are run by Republicans who are bombarding their residents with negatives about ACA 24/7.

  4. Lynda Groom says:

    The majority don’t know that the law allows consumer choice. A full 26% believe this is a single government plan. Where have they been for last few years? The inability of the majority of our fellow citizens to get and stay informed is truly astounding and horrible. This stuff is not really that difficult to comprehend, or it certainly should not be.

    • Dominick Vila says:

      The amount of ignorance that becomes apparent when some Republicans criticize the ACA is, indeed, perplexing, but we are as much to blame for that as the GOP-TP demonization campaign is. The administration has to explain the concept, the structure, and the benefits of the ACA in terms that are understandable to all. They haven’t done it, and by so doing they have allowed the GOP to undermine the values of the new program without ever offering specifics or viable alternatives.

      • essbird says:

        The Administration can’t say anything that will inform or change the minds of the people who have swallowed the lies of the Right for the last thirty years. They can’t hear Obama; he only enrages them when he says anything at all. As the saying goes, if Republicans learned that Obama favors respiration, we’d be a one-party system in ten minutes.

        Hey, maybe that’s what the Rapture is about!

        I suppose I can relate. I felt the same way every time Reagan opened his mouth.

        • Dominick Vila says:

          That is true for the far right, but considering the fact that a lot of centrists are still not sure about the ACA, I believe a more comprehensive explanation of its structure and benefits may help dispel some of the misinformation that dominate discourse on this issue. I think it is also important to remember that some ACA opponents do not it because they would have preferred a Single Payer system. The latter explains why a majority of Americans oppose repeal.

          • essbird says:

            If the ACA is such a big deal that it lives, say, in the top ten political or economic concerns of these independents, they should take the time to find answers. In three minutes, I found this from DHHS: I also found this from the insurance industry

            “More comprehensive” information than this may be a deterrent to those who have been too lazy to discover the quite accessible information the government has published already. They’re not going to get “more comprehensive” from TV or radio; those media will rather present arguing talking heads because it’s more entertaining. Really, Dominick, I don’t know what more they can do that will be presented in such a manner and time that independents will choose to pay attention to it rather than watch the Kardashians. And I suspect that these independents are too distrustful of government information to believe it.

            Please tell me how you think this information can be delivered more effectively. Complaints without suggested solutions are really quite useless.

          • Dominick Vila says:

            The problem goes well beyond “Independents”. If two thirds of our population does not consider the ACA, as it is currently structured, favorably, that means that in addition to Republicans and Independents, there are also many Democrats that share their views. Laziness, a tendency to listen to demagogues, ideology, a fear of anything new, and a growing distrust of the institution of government all play into the current mindset.
            The problem is that all these factors are not going to go away, and that unless we do something to spoon feed those who can be persuaded, the ACA will remain a controversial program for years to come. That is, if the GOP does not find a way to dismantle it.

          • essbird says:

            I think we agree, then. The challenge is actually in the spoon-feeding. The administration won’t be heard by this stubborn or apathetic or ignorant population, and the MSM has no interest in the public welfare. What works is a TV/radio public service announcement campaign probably by the states or even by the insurance industry itself, which is an enormous beneficiary of the ACA. You see it over and over again – tobacco use, teen pregnancy, AIDS, all sorts of things go down after an effective PSA campaign,

  5. irishtap says:

    Lets not forget the fact behind the rocky roll out of the website, can be blamed on “the free market”, as the tech company assigned to creating a user friendly site failed remarkably. I believe, if left in the hands of very capable and dedicated government employees, the website would have been up and humming along on time. The irony is; Republicans cannot offer an alternative to ACA – because ACA is market based and was actually written by a conservative think tank. As much as I would prefer a public option, we have to understand, not only the Republican hatred against a modicum of ‘health care fairness’ to citizens but, this is the “only plan that could survive a health insurance avalanche of negative advertisements”. As imperfect as it is – it’s a start toward health care justice in this country. This war isn’t over.

  6. Douglas Johnson says:

    You guys who don’t want it repealed, be careful with your vote. Republican senate: goodbye PPACA.

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