American voters were expressing many things when they cast their ballots on Tuesday, and one of them undoubtedly was anger, frustrationÂ andÂ misgivings about the health care reform law.
The election returns were barely tallied when the issue was placed squarely on the table: Should the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act be repealed?
Ever since the health care reform bill was signed into law this past March, virtually every poll or survey has shown that Americans are deeply divided in their support. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that they want to see the entire package thrown out, as an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found last month.
The overall message from the analysis: While many Americans are unhappy with the law, they also support retaining some of the major provisions – and there’s at least some openness to first giving the law a chance to work.
The Kaiser Foundation analysts examined eight major opinion polls conducted in September and early October. They found that support for repealing the Affordable Care Act ranged from a low of 26 percent to a high of 51 percent.
It’s hard to know what to make of these results, and the analysts concluded that how the questions are worded in each survey, and the order in which they’re asked,Â might be influencing how the participants respond:
It’s possible that the surveys that ask Americans right off the bat are to some extent picking up a generic opposition to the bill that doesn’t have another channel to flow through. On the other hand, it could be possible that by not asking those with favorable views of the law whether they want it repealed, other surveys are missing some liberals who might be satisfied with the bill but prefer to repeal it in favor of something that goes even farther.
The analysts also noted that “the two wordings which obtain the lowest percentages in favor of overturning the law both include language about ‘giving the law a chance’ rather than offering a more black or white, ‘keep or repeal.’”
The public’s opinion on specific major provisions of the law reveals more nuances. A Bloomberg national poll conducted about one month before the election found that 78 percent of the respondents wanted to maintain high-risk pools that provide access to health insurance for individuals with major health problems. Three-fourths supportedÂ the provision that bars insurance companies from refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. On the other hand, half wanted to repeal the “everyone must have health insurance” mandate, and 62 percent wanted to repeal the extra tax on Cadillac health plans.
A couple of take-home points from the Kaiser Foundation’s analysis: Poll-watchers should be careful to differentiate between those who are actively demanding repeal and those for whom “repeal” is another way of saying they don’t like the law. Also, public opinion could continue to shift as more provisions of the law go into effect and people have a chance to bring some personal experience to the discussion.
What do readers think? Should the Affordable Care Act be repealed in its entirety? Are there some provisions you’d like to keep? Why or why not? Leave your responses in the comment section below.