Some GOP Voters Skittish About Full Obamacare Repeal, Poll Finds

Lawmakers mull a variety of ‘fixes’

With their party gaining control of both the White House and Congress, some Republican voters are growing hesitant about outright abolition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and instead are favoring a more circumspect approach of scaling it back, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Republican opposition to the PPACA remains strong among voters for President-elect Donald Trump, with 81% of his supporters viewing it unfavorably, according to the poll. Trump voters, however, also support many of the individual consumer protections in the act.

Trump and the Republican Congress have vowed to repeal the PPACA and replace it with a not-yet-specified alternative. Lawmakers are mulling a variety of approaches, from immediate repeal to keeping the law operating until a substitute is designed, even if that takes several years.

The public overall remains essentially split on the PPACA, the poll found, with 43% wanting it repealed or scaled back and 49% wanting to keep or expand it. Among Clinton supporters, 79% held favorable views of the act.

With its diminishment now a political likelihood, the proportion of Republicans who want to repeal the law has decreased to 52% from 69% last October. The poll identified a “slight uptick” in the share of people who want the act scaled back but not eliminated. That view is now twice as popular among Republicans: 24% want to scale it back, up from 11% in October.

The poll found strong Trump voter support for some of the consumer protections that were part of the act, including allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26; reducing the amount Medicare beneficiaries have to pay for prescription drugs; and providing financial assistance to lower-income Americans to buy insurance.

More than 60% of Trump voters supported these provisions as well as the PPACA’s ban on letting insurers refuse to sell policies to people with histories of medical problems. Two-thirds of Trump voters also favor letting states have the option of expanding Medicaid programs to cover more low-income adults, as 31 states and the District of Columbia have done.

The law’s requirement that people buy insurance––known as the “individual mandate”––remains highly unpopular. Republicans have said they will do away with it and are considering other ways to encourage people to stay insured.

The survey was conducted from November 15 through 21 among 1,202 adults.

Source: Kaiser Health News; December 1, 2016.