Memo on the Poll Findings – Public Opinion on the Affordable Care Act

TO: Interested Parties

FR: Michael Ramlet and Kyle Dropp

DT: Wednesday, June 12, 2013

RE: National Poll Findings of Public Opinion on the Affordable Care Act

As implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) ramps up, public opinion remains deeply divided over the law.  Nearly half of Americans say the law will increase the cost of their health insurance, and twice as many say the Affordable Care Act will reduce access to medical benefits rather than increase it, according to a new bipartisan national poll conducted by The Morning Consult from May 22 to May 26, 2013.

The bipartisan poll included a national sample of 1,000 likely voters and was completed by Republican pollster John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates and Democratic pollster Margie Omero of Momentum Analysis.

Today, we will discuss public opinion on the Affordable Care Act and Thursday we will examine public opinion on a series of healthcare and tax reform proposals. Yesterday, we analyzed public opinion on the U.S. Healthcare system.

Additional poll materials can be found online:

ACA: Divided Support, Uneven Intensity Levels

Americans remain narrowly divided on their support for the Affordable Care Act.  Forty-three percent approve of the law, compared with 49 percent who disapprove. Yet, Americans opposing “Obamacare” exhibit much stronger views than those favoring it. Strong disapproval (41 percent) nearly doubles strong approval (23 percent). Whereas nearly eight in 10 Republicans strongly disapprove of the law, only four in 10 Democrats strongly approve. “Obamacare” is also one of the most divisive partisan issues — 88 percent of Republicans oppose the law, 79 percent of Democrats support it and Independents narrowly oppose ACA (38 percent support versus 52 percent oppose).

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Obamacare’s Impact on Families, Health Insurance Costs and Access to Medical Care

Forty-four percent of Americans say “Obamacare” will make things a little or a lot worse for their family, compared with 23 percent who say the Affordable Care Act will make things better and one in four who say the legislation will have no effect on their families.

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Forty-seven percent of Americans say Obamacare will make health insurance costs much more expensive or somewhat more expensive, compared to 24 percent who say costs will remain the same, and only 15 percent who say health insurance costs will be much less expensive or somewhat less expensive.

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Thirty-four percent of Americans say the Affordable Care Act will make medical benefits such as doctor’s appointments, medical treatments and prescription drugs less available. Eighteen percent say the legislation will make such benefits more available, and 37 percent say medical benefits will remain the same under the legislation.

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The Role of Employer Sponsored Insurance

The American public’s lingering preference for employer sponsored insurance helps explain differences in public opinion concerning “Obamacare.” Notably, Americans with employer-based or on government health plans are about 10 percentage points more likely to say that Obamacare will keep prices and benefits about the same compared with individuals who purchase their own insurance or uninsured Americans.

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Entrenched Public Positions on Obamacare’s Industry Taxes

Overall, 51 percent oppose taxing insurance companies to pay for expanded healthcare coverage for low income Americans, compared with 36 percent who favor the tax. Twice as many strongly oppose the tax (36 percent) as strongly favor it (18 percent)

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Forty-seven percent oppose taxing drug companies to help pay for the law’s expanded Medicare prescription drug benefits, compared with 42 percent who favor the tax.

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Fifty percent oppose a tax on medical device companies to help pay for expanded healthcare coverage for low income Americans, compared with 38 percent who favor the tax.

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A Divided Congress Reflects a Divided Public in the Case of Obamacare’s Future

Key provisions of “Obamacare” already have taken effect, and many more, like the launch of insurance exchanges, the expansion of the Medicaid program and the so-called individual mandate, will be in effect by the start of next year. Americans remain divided on the steps Congress should take with respect to the law’s future. Two in 10 say Congress should let the law take effect as is, while three in 10 say Congress should make changes to improve the law. On the other hand, 34 percent say Congress should try to repeal the law, and 8 percent say Congress should delay and defund the legislation.

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