Health and Science

Most Americans either oppose Obamacare repeal or want to see replacement plan first

Replacing Obamacare will take careful timing
Replacing Obamacare will take careful timing

Should it stay, or should it go now?

The U.S. public is divided almost equally on whether Obamacare should be repealed — and opponents of the health-care law themselves are split on whether it should be axed without a replacement plan ready to go.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey out Friday found that 49 percent of Americans want the Affordable Care Act repealed.

Another 47 percent oppose getting rid of the landmark health-care reform law — as the new Congress and President-elect Donald Trump intends to do.

But a majority of repeal advocates want to delay a vote to kill the ACA until the details of a replacement plan for the law have been announced.

Kaiser's survey found that 28 percent of all respondents supported such a delay pending replacement details. That means that three-quarters of Americans either don't want the law repealed, or only want it done with a replacement at hand.

Just 20 percent of all respondents were in favor of repealing Obamacare "immediately and work out the details of a replacement plan later," according to Kaiser.

The nearly even split between repeal advocates and repeal foes reflects the public's overall views of Obamacare, with 46 percent seeing it unfavorably, and 43 percent favorably.

However, Kaiser noted that when people are told the pro-repeal argument, support for getting rid of the law grows to as high as 60 percent. On the other hand, when people are informed of anti-repeal arguments, which include people losing coverage, support for repeal drops to as low as 27 percent.

The survey found that Obamacare, and the questions about what to do with it, ranked behind other health-care concerns that the public wants Trump and Congress to address. Most respondents were more interested in the president-elect and Congress lowering the amount people pay for health care and prescription drugs, as well as dealing with the painkiller addiction epidemic.

The survey questioned 1,204 adults, and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

The survey comes days after congressional Republicans took the first steps toward repealing the ACA without offering a replacement plan. The GOP has said a replacement plan, or plans, is in the works, but it's not certain that such a proposal will be ready for a vote by the time of repeal.

The repeal effort could end federal funding of subsidies that millions of people rely on to help them buy Obamacare plans, as well as end the requirement that most Americans have some form of health coverage or pay a penalty. Insurers and health providers are worried that both moves could lead to decreases in the number of people insured, and hence their revenue.

Trump favors replacing Obamacare with other legislation. Trump's senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, said earlier this week that the president-elect does not want anyone who currently has insurance coverage under the ACA to lose it under a replacement plan.

But health-care experts who have examined previous Republican proposals for replacements of Obamacare have said millions of people would end up losing coverage under them.

And the Urban Institute has estimated that nearly 30 million Americans could lose their health insurance coverage if the ACA is repealed without a replacement.

Last month, the American Academy of Actuaries in a letter to Congress warned that repealing Obamacare while delaying adopting a replacement for it could wreak havoc in the individual insurance plan market, even if Congress suspended the effects of a delay for several years.