With “Trumpcare” on Horizon, Voters Go Soft on Repeal

Polls find more-favorable views of PPACA as Medicaid expansion comes under fire

When presidential candidate Donald Trump described the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) last year as “a fraud,” “a total disaster,” and “very bad health insurance,” more Americans than not agreed with him in the polls. But now that President Trump and fellow Republicans are edging closer to fulfilling their promise to scrap the PPACA, many people appear to be having second thoughts, according to an article posted on the Kaiser Health News (KHN) website.

In recent polls by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Research Center, Americans have taken a more-positive view of the controversial health care act, although many still dislike it. In the Kaiser survey, for instance, 48% viewed the PPACA favorably while 43% viewed it unfavorably.

President Trump has acknowledged that health care is “complicated.” So are voter opinions on what to do next with the PPACA, according to the KHN article.

Adding to the political fog are mixed signals from Republicans.

For weeks, Trump has been promising—but has yet to produce—a blueprint detailing his plan to repeal and replace the PPACA with “insurance for everybody.” In his February 28 address to Congress, he said a new health care law “should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage.”

But a leaked GOP draft replacement document in Congress would shrink coverage subsidies, and House conservatives complained that even those were still too expensive. This week, congressional Republicans told reporters that they were still working on “the best way to build a consensus to pass a bill to gut Obamacare.”

Many middle- and lower-income Republicans benefit from the PPACA’s Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies, according to the KHN report. In the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 43% of Republicans and 57% of independents said Medicaid was important to their families. Many who thought that the PPACA consisted solely of marketplace plans may be realizing that Medicaid coverage is also in jeopardy, the article suggests.

That’s a political hazard for Republicans who would dismantle it, said Dr. Mark Peterson, a political science professor at the University of California–Los Angeles.

“A lot of that base would be most adversely affected by repealing the [PP]ACA and replacing it with something that left enormous holes for the working class,” he said. Medicaid beneficiaries “begin to recognize how they’re put at risk, and they begin talking to friends and colleagues, and it becomes quite real.”

Some Republican voters object to the PPACA not because it expanded health care coverage, but because it did so in such a complex way, with sliding subsidies and reliance on private insurers selling expensive plans with narrow doctor networks, according to the article.

“It would have been better if the federal government had said, ‘Look, to get these 20 million insured, let’s just expand Medicaid nationwide, and let’s leave everybody else alone,’” said Rickey Mathis, a Georgian who hasn’t had health insurance since the factory employing him closed in 2012. “Why did they have to screw up the whole country’s health insurance?”

Mark Bunkosky, a Michigan contractor for heating and air conditioning, urged Republicans to think hard about any PPACA replacement.

“Everybody’s in a hurry for it, but they need to sit down and do it right,” he said. “Some of it is still a good idea.”

Source: Kaiser Health News; March 6, 2017.