Poll: Supporters of Obamacare Repeal Largely Want to See Replacement

Americans are almost evenly split on whether they want a repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law, but a majority of repeal supporters say they want lawmakers to present the details of a replacement plan before scrapping the Affordable Care Act, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

Congressional Republicans have presented several alternatives to Obamacare but haven't unified on a specific plan or even on details about if and how long repeal will be delayed. Democrats decried this lack of consensus on Capitol Hill this week, saying that repeal would introduce chaos into the health care system. The Kaiser Family Foundation poll suggests Americans share concerns about what would take Obamacare's place. Still, slightly more people report they want to repeal Obamacare than those who report they do not want to see the law repealed.

Also, while Republican lawmakers have made repealing Obamacare their No. 1 priority, the poll suggests that when it comes to health care, Americans have other concerns in mind. While the law remains largely unpopular, support for reducing the amount people pay for care and dealing with the country's opioid epidemic rank above Obamacare's repeal.

When asked about a series of priorities on health care, most respondents said lowering the amount people pay for health care should be a top priority, followed by lowering the cost of prescription drugs. Dealing with the opioid epidemic ranked above repealing Obamacare.

President-elect Donald Trump promised to repeal Obamacare during his presidential campaign, and his latest statements on the matter as well as his Cabinet selections suggest he intends to keep his vow. Democrats this week have launched an offensive strategy to shield Obamacare from repeal, mostly by aiming to sway public opinion about the law.

They appear to have some convincing to do: The Kaiser Family Foundation poll revealed that more people tend to view the law unfavorably than favorably – at 46 percent and 43 percent, respectively – an attitude that has remained largely unchanged since the law's passage almost seven years ago. The poll, conducted in mid-December, was compiled through phone interviews with 1,204 adults.

According to the results, a slightly larger proportion of Americans are not confident that Trump can deliver on his campaign promise to deliver cheaper, better health care. The results were divided on party lines, however, with 85 percent of Republicans having some level of confidence that Trump could keep his vow.

More people tend to view Obamacare unfavorably than favorably, according to new poll. JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

Americans don't want to scrap Obamacare without something to replace it, new poll shows

The vast majority of Americans do not support Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act without enacting a replacement, a new nationwide poll finds.

Nearly half the country does not want the law, commonly called Obamacare, to be repealed at all.

Even among those who want to see the law rolled back, most say Congress should wait to vote on repeal until the details of a replacement plan have been announced.

Just two in 10 Americans support the GOP strategy to quickly vote for repeal and work out details of a replacement later, according to the poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

President-elect Donald Trump and senior GOP lawmakers indicated this week that they plan to move quickly to sweep away major pillars of Obamacare, insisting they have a mandate from voters to scrap the 2010 healthcare law.

But Republicans haven’t detailed how they will replace the law’s coverage program, which has helped extend health insurance to more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans.

They have pledged to develop a replacement over the next several years, which, they say, will protect the tens of millions of people who depend on the law’s protections.

Those promises haven’t convinced major medical groups, patient advocates or even many conservative healthcare experts, who have voiced concerns that this “repeal and delay” strategy could sow chaos in insurance markets and jeopardize Americans’ access to health insurance.

Democrats, meanwhile, are stepping up efforts to highlight the risks of scrapping the law with no replacement in place.

The public may share those concerns, the poll suggests.

There is also widespread skepticism about Trump’s ability to guarantee better healthcare at lower costs, as the president-elect has said he will do.

Slightly more than half of Americans say they are not confident that Trump can deliver on his healthcare promise, while 48% say they are.

That split largely parallels a longstanding divide in public opinion about the Affordable Care Act that has largely broken along partisan lines, with Democrats viewing the law favorably and Republicans unfavorably.

Nearly two-thirds of Republicans believe that repealing Obamacare should be a top priority for Trump and the new Congress.

Just 21% of Democrats and 32% of independents feel that way.

The poll was conducted Dec. 13-19 among a nationally representative random sample of 1,204 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample.


Poll: Most Americans Say Don't Repeal Obamacare Without A Replacement

An overwhelming majority of people disapprove of Republican lawmakers' plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having a ready replacement for the health care law, according to a poll released Friday.

And judging by the letter-writing and lobbying in the first week of the new congressional session, many health care and business groups agree.

A poll released Friday by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 75 percent of Americans say they either want lawmakers to leave Obamacare alone, or repeal it only when they can replace it with a new health care law. Twenty percent of those polled say they want to see the law killed immediately.

But Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, says the poll shows lawmakers don't have a strong mandate to repeal Obamacare.

"Most of the American people said they're either against repealing it or they're against repealing it unless Republicans put a replacement plan on the table," Altman says. "They want to see what comes next before they seen the ACA repealed."

Americans are about equally divided over whether Congress should repeal Obamacare, the poll shows. But of the 48 percent who want the law rolled back, about 60 percent want lawmakers to wait until they have an alternative plan.

And Obamacare isn't even people's top health care concern. The vast majority — 67 percent — say their top priority is finding a way to lower their health care costs.

The poll findings come just days after Republicans in the Senate took the first step toward repealing President Obama's signature health care law. They voted on Wednesday to move ahead with a budget resolution that will allow them to take funding away from Obamacare, which will effectively gut the law because the subsidies to buy insurance, and the penalties for not doing so, will disappear.

Republicans say they intend to vote on repeal, but give the law time to sunset while they come up with a replacement that will give the millions of people covered under Obamacare access to insurance through some other vehicle.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the replacement legislation would pass by the end of the year.

But doctors, hospital groups, insurers and analysts are skeptical of that strategy. In letters, press releases and advertising campaigns, many organizations have made it clear that they want to see a replacement for the Affordable Care Act in place, or at least outlined, before Congress repeals the current law.

A report released Dec. 6 by the American Hospital Association and Federation of American Hospitals warned that a repeal could cost hospitals hundreds of billions and said "any reconsideration of the ACA should be accompanied at the same time by provisions that guarantee similar coverage to those who would lose it."

A letter sent Tuesday from the American Medical Association urged lawmakers to release details of their Obamacare replacement before repealing the current law.

"Patients and other stakeholders should be able to clearly compare current policy to new proposals so they can make informed decisions about whether it represents a step forward in the ongoing process of health reform," the letter said.

Dr. Andrew Gurman, president of the American Medical Association, says people should be able to evaluate the proposed Obamacare replacement before the current law is thrown out.

"People in this country need to understand what it is they're being asked to substitute for what's there now so they can have an informed opinion about whether it's better or not," Gurman says.

And repeal and delay?

"We have a concern that that creates uncertainty in insurance markets and uncertainty in people about whether they're going to have continuity of coverage," Gurman adds.

He says he and his members talk with lawmakers regularly.

A separate study released Thursday projects that a straight repeal of the law could kill 3 million jobs across the country by 2021.

That study, by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, finds that about a third of those lost jobs would come from health care, and the rest would be in other industries such as retail, construction, finance and insurance. Total business output could be cut by as much as $2.6 billion over four years, the report says. California, Florida and Texas would be most affected.

Leighton Ku, the report's lead author, says the debate over ACA repeal has focused almost completely on insurance coverage and has ignored the broader economic impact.

"The payments you make to health care then become income for workers and income for other businesses. And this spreads out," Ku says. "Health care is almost a fifth of the US economy, so as you begin to change health care, there are repercussions that go across all sectors."

Ku says he can't estimate what economic impact Obamcare replacement would have because Republicans have yet to lay out their plans.

"It's a mystery," he says.

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