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Thursday, October 20, 2016

By David Lauter, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — As the deadline approaches for enrolling in Obamacare health coverage this year, younger Americans have warmed somewhat to the president’s health care law, but Latinos remain closely split over it.

Those findings from a large-scale Pew Research Center survey provide a glimpse at two groups that are major targets of the Obama administration’s push to get people to sign up before the March 31 deadline.

The administration had originally hoped to get about 7 million people to sign up for coverage in the first year but lowered its expectations after the disastrous rollout last fall of the website. Enrollments now appear to be on track to end up somewhat more than 6 million.

Opinion about the Affordable Care Act soured among Latinos during the fall and has not recovered, the new Pew poll found. Latinos in the current survey were evenly divided, with 47 percent approving of the law and 47 percent disapproving.

By contrast, Americans younger than 30, who also grew more negative during the fall, now appear to have grown somewhat more accepting of the law. Among Americans ages 18 through 29, 50 percent say they approve of it and 47 percent oppose.

By contrast, among all Americans, disapproval still prevails, with 41 percent favoring the law and 53 percent opposed.

Overall feelings toward the law have not changed in many months, but the public’s sense of what political figures should do about it have shifted. Now that the law has taken effect, a majority of those who dislike it want to see public officials do what they can to make it work.

Fewer than 1 in 5 Americans say they want public officials to try to make the law fail — down from about 1 in 4 in September.

The exception is among Republicans who identify with the tea party. Among that group, 60 percent want elected officials to try to make the law fail. By contrast, among Republicans who do not identify with the Tea Party, most say they want politicians to figure out how to make the law work as well as possible. Only about one-quarter want officials to try to make it fail.

That sharp divide among Republicans has been a major complication for GOP elected officials for most of the last year. The party remains united so long as debate focuses on Obamacare, which the vast majority of Republicans oppose. But that unity dissolves when discussions move toward what to do about it.

Although the country leans against the Affordable Care Act, more support exists for the general principle that government should guarantee that all Americans have health coverage. On that question, the public divides almost equally, with 50 percent saying no and 47 percent yes, the poll found.

  • elw

    I would suspect that this finding is the beginning of a trend. It is all about the power of the spread of information from person to person. As people begin see the positive side of the ACA through personal experience or by watching their friends and family experience it, they will find it harder and harder to believe the false information that has been spread by the GOP. In the long run words spread from person to person have much more impact than those that come from politicians. The Conservative reaction to the ACA has not been much different than it was to Medicare in the 1960’s, it took a while then for Medicare to gain it current popularity and the same will happen with the ACA. Nothing works better than experience and that is what people are getting today, millions at a time. The GOP has lost this war, they are silly to keep fighting it. However, “silly” seems to be the only thing they are good at.

  • paulyz

    The true costs to people basically “forced” to sign up for Obamacare are still being hidden until “after” the mid-term elections. Socialist Democrats always have to disguise & lie about their Bills in order to force them on gullible Americans. Costs of Obamacare are going to rise dramatically, much worse than even now!

    • Grannysmovin

      The Republicans are the ones who lie and disguise their bills! Look at the Ads put out against the ACA which have been proven to be false by a number of fact checkers. The only gullible Americans are those who believe (and never check) everything said on Faux News, by Limbaugh and Beck. Hey if you don’t pay your credit card on time you are “forced” to pay a late fee. Your bank “forces” you to pay a stop payment fee (approximately $30). What are your solutions for the millions that were uninsured in this country? What are your solutions for people being denied or dropped from policies because of pre-existing or developing a catastrophic health issue while employed. What is your solution for those who reach their life time cap and the child is only 10 years old.

    • Billie

      You talk about cost. How about the cost of all those emergency room visits that are never paid for. Health care is always going to cost somebody. Usually you and me.

    • roguerunners

      You are not being “forced” to sign up. You may choose to sign up or choose not to and pay more taxes.

    • flyinjs

      You care more about the cost of your precious money than to people who truly need the healthcare. Shame on you.

  • Barbara Morgan

    Instead of separating people into races when reporting these polls why don’t they show the percentage in relationship to parties only. This showing everything in polls using race instead of just numbers doesn’t help stop racism and hate it helps to keep it happening. Use the race of people only if they are missing or wanted for a crime those are the only times that race is important. Also there needs to be more reporting on the good that the affordable medical act has done for people. This week the weekly paper from my small hometown had a front page article about a woman that is alive today because of this act and who was telling people to get it and my home state doesn’t have the exchange program nor did it do the Medicaid expansion, a red state. More articles like that one would help more people understand that the affordable medical act does good and could save their life like it did her life.

  • howa4x

    The GOP knows that if it wins both the senate and the house they will be stuck with this issue and will move from a role of antagonists to ones responsible for the outcome, and they will face a real dilemma. If they repeal the law, what do they replace it with, and what happens to people who already have coverage and subsidies? The real problem for the GOP is that Freedom works(Koch) and the heritage foundation want outright repeal which will create great turmoil , and moderates want to just make it work better. This fight will play out on a national stage with 2016 hanging in the outcome. Also if it is found that the Koch brothers are seen as the driving force of taking away people’s health care coverage, it will fuel the debate about income inequality and the clout of the billionaires in politics, and may help overturn citizens united with new campaign finance laws.
    So republicans be careful what you wish for. There may not a pot of gold in victory rather , it may be more like Pandora’s box.

  • howa4x

    The entire national discussion is missing the real issue, which is how we pay for all the disease in this country. There is no discussion on how we can lower risk factors or what is causing a chronic disease epidemic. Just last year for Cancer and heart disease 900,000 died. That is more than our military deaths in all of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. After 9/11 we spent trillions to protect ourselves when just 4000 died. Why can’t we protect ourselves against disease? Our entire illness intervention system is making trillions on our calamity of disease. We are on an unsustainable course unless we get to what is causing so many to become sick. We have to change the national debate from how we pay for illness to how can we avoid it, or we face the gravest threat to our country.