Partisanship Guides Americans' Attitudes on Health-Care Reform Law: Poll10/25/12
THURSDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Two years after it was
signed into law, Americans' views on the Affordable Care Act
continue to track along party lines, even among those who say
they've personally been affected by the controversial health-reform
legislation, a new
Harris Interactive/HealthDaypoll finds.
According to the poll of more than 2,500 adults conducted
earlier this month, 31 percent of adults surveyed said they want
the entire law repealed, another 27 percent want to keep it in its
entirety, and 22 percent want to keep only parts of it.
But as with a similar poll conducted a year ago, attitudes hewed
closely to party lines: Most Republicans (63 percent) favor repeal
while many Democrats (49 percent) want to keep all of the law or
just tweak parts of it (19 percent).
And yet big majorities across the political spectrum said they
want to retain parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law, one
of the legislative centerpieces of President Barack Obama's
presidency, has been a frequent topic of debate during the pending
election, with Republican challenger Mitt Romney pledging to repeal
For instance, 70 percent of those surveyed said they want to
keep the rule that prevents insurers from denying health coverage
based on pre-existing conditions -- up from 64 percent in 2010,
when the law was signed by Obama.
The "individual mandate," on the other hand, remains a bitter
source of contention, with 55 percent opposing it, roughly the same
as two years ago. This provision requires Americans who don't have
insurance to buy it or face a penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court
upheld the provision in a ruling handed down in June.
Harris Poll chairman Humphrey Taylor said the results aren't
surprising. "This survey indicates that many people can have
different attitudes to the forest (the 'big picture') and to the
trees (the 'specifics')," he said.
Although the ACA isn't scheduled to take full effect until the
end of 2014, some provisions are already in place. For instance,
people under the age of 26 can remain on their parents' health
insurance plan; many seniors on Medicare now have lower drug costs
due to a shrinking of the infamous "donut hole" reimbursement gap;
and insurers are no longer allowed to exclude people from coverage
because of pre-existing conditions.
But Americans seem unclear on which provisions have already been
implemented, which haven't, and how they personally might have been
For example, when pollsters asked respondents about the possible
effects the Affordable Care Act might have had on them -- including
some provisions that have been implemented and some that have not
-- 60 percent said they had already been impacted, whether the
effect was real (based on provisions already in place) or
Some of these perceived effects would be highly unlikely to have
manifested at this point in time, including a tax increase as a
result of the bill's passage, which was noted by 19 percent of
respondents, and a decline in health care quality, noted by 16
percent of respondents.
Some respondents said they or someone they know have already
benefited from the Affordable Care Act: 23 percent cited the
provision allowing young adults to gain coverage from a parent's
health plan; 14 percent cited the provision granting wider access
to preventive services; 14 percent cited the new "pre-existing
condition" rule; and 13 percent cited lower drug costs for seniors
Predictably, individual views on the law's effects -- for good
or ill -- also fell along party lines. Twenty-two percent of
Democrats say the ACA has had an overall positive effect on their
lives, compared to only 4 percent of Republicans. Similarly, 42
percent of Republicans deem the overall effect as negative,
compared with 9 percent of Democrats.
"Republicans are much more likely to see negative effects of the ACA, including some effects (increased taxes or a decline in quality of care) which are almost certainly not linked to the Affordable Care Act," Taylor said. "Democrats tend to see positive effects that [also] may be real or imagined."
Although the poll numbers appear mixed, Ron Pollack, executive
director of Families USA in Washington, D.C., believes that public
attitudes will lean more toward the positive as 2014 approaches and
more of the law's key elements are enacted.
"As more and more people gain the experience of these very reforms having a positive impact in their lives and understand that the ACA was the vehicle by which those changes occurred, I think you're going to see the overall numbers change," Pollack said.
But John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy
Analysis in Dallas, believes the poll's results may be skewed
because the questions asked of respondents were oriented toward the
benefits and not the costs.
"If insurance companies can't deny people coverage because they're sick, what if it raises your premiums? Then how do you feel about it?" he said. "People should understand that there is no free lunch. There are trade-offs."
The online survey was conducted within the United States between
Oct. 2-4 and involved 2,516 adults aged 18 and over.
Learn more about the Affordable Care Act at
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