(via New York Times)
On opening day of the new federal and state health insurance exchanges, a deeper look at how Americans view the Affordable Care Act shows that public opinion is not as negative as has been reported.
Although much polling has shown that more Americans disapprove of the 2010 health care law than approve, recent polling has shown that a slice of those who disapprove are critical of the law because it does not go far enough in changing the nation’s health care system.
The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll conducted in mid-September posed a two-part question, first asking respondents whether they perceived the law as favorable or unfavorable. Those who answered unfavorable were then asked if their unfavorable view was because the law went too far or not far enough.
Overall, 33 percent of Americans found the law favorable, 43 percent found it unfavorable, and 17 percent were unsure or did not give an opinion. But the faction that disapproved of the law broke down this way: 33 percent who said the law went too far, 7 percent who said the law did not go far enough, and 3 percent who could not say either way.
So when we account for those who disapproved because they wanted more expansive reform, the poll shows that support for the law and opposition to it are much more even: 36 percent oppose the law, and 40 percent are in support of some form of federal health care transformation (if one includes the 7 percent who want a more expanded version).
Kaiser was not alone in this finding that a small sliver of Americans who want a more expansive approach to health care can tip the balance of how support for the health care law can be viewed.
A CNN/ORC poll conducted in late September found 38 percent of Americans in favor of the law that makes major changes to the country’s health care system, 39 percent who said they opposed the legislation because its approach toward health care was too liberal, and 11 percent who said it was not liberal enough.
If one combines the segment that wants a more liberal approach to health care reform with those who approve of the law, a plurality of Americans view health care change favorably.
In a CBS News poll conducted in July, 20 percent of Americans said they wanted Congress to expand the law, 16 percent said to keep the law as is, 18 percent said to repeal just the mandate, and 39 percent said to repeal the entire law. Polling over the past few years has also shown that majorities of Americans approve of specific measures in the health care law, including coverage of those with pre-existing conditions and the extension of coverage of dependents on their parents’ health plans until they reach the age of 26.
The most recent New York Times/CBS News Poll, released last week, found that even though more Americans disapproved of the health care law over all, a majority said they would like to see Congress uphold the law and make it work as well as possible (56 percent), rather than stop the law by defunding it (38 percent). And while nearly two-thirds of those who disapprove of the health care law support defunding the law, 3 in 10 said they prefer that the law be upheld.
Perhaps most tellingly, and a predictor of the heavy traffic that has been reported on the state and federal health care exchange Web sites, the recent Times/CBS Poll found that although those without insurance were divided over their approval of the health care law over all, nearly 7 in 10 of uninsured people said they wanted the health care law upheld and made to work.