Democrats’ Dissatisfaction With PPACA May Be the Opening Trump Needs

Gallup poll finds 57% of Dems want changes

Democrats were never expected to support repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), but after being left on the sidelines during the failed Republican attempt to dismantle the law, they could now play a key role in giving President Trump a legislative victory on health care, according to the results from a recent Gallup survey.

Perhaps because of the media’s focus on the chaotic and highly visible process of revamping the PPACA, U.S. public approval of Barack Obama’s key legislation has actually increased since Donald Trump’s election, from 42% approving in November 2016 to 55% approving in early April 2017, Gallup reports.

Most of this increase came from Democratic identifiers and leaners who have become more hardened in their support for the PPACA. Nearly nine in 10 Democrats (87%) now approve of the PPACA, while only 10% disapprove—down from 24% in November.

With the Republican Party still divided on health care, it seems that some Democratic House members may need to vote for PPACA reform to reach the magic number of 216 House members needed to pass a bill, Gallup says.

Even Trump has signaled that the White House may increase its outreach to Democrats, which is a major strategic shift.

In the new survey, 75% of Democrats and Democratic leaners, as well as 86% of Republicans and Republican leaners, said they were dissatisfied with the total cost of health care in the U.S. Therefore, while congressional Democrats in Washington seem committed to protecting the PPACA, rank-and-file Democrats see the need for more cost controls.

Moreover, even with the PPACA as the law of the land, 62% of Democrats and Democratic leaners in November said that the health care system was either in a state of crisis or had major problems. The Democratic percentage was only a bit lower than the 80% found among Republicans and Republican leaners.

More recently, in an early April 2017 Gallup poll, fewer than half of Democrats (40%) said they wanted to keep the PPACA “largely as it is.” The majority would either make significant changes to it (52%) or repeal and replace it (5%).

The fact that not all Democrats are happy with the PPACA will be “the bouncing ball” in any negotiations that Republican congressional leaders have with Democratic congressional leaders, as a remarkably strong number of the Democratic rank-and-file may not want “repeal,” but do want “repair,” Gallup suggests.

The intra-GOP differences in opinion may continue to make health care reform exceedingly complicated, as nearly six in 10 rank-and-file Republicans want total legislative replacement, while 28% would rather keep the PPACA in place but make significant changes to it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) noted where the GOP’s proposed legislation stood before the spring recess, declaring: “So right now, we’re just at that conceptual stage about how to move forward in a way we can get everybody to 216 [votes]."

According to Gallup, if Trump turns to Democratic House members to make a second attempt at a deal for health care reform, he might need to remind Democratic congressional leaders in Washington that there is a significant number of Democrats in the country who want reform, if not repeal.

Source: Gallup; April 11, 2017.