Health and Science

Obamacare tops 50 percent popularity among Americans for first time in new poll, after Senate unveils bill to gut health-care law

Key Points
  • 51 percent of the public now sees Obamacare favorably.
  • Majorities of the public oppose cuts to Medicaid.
  • There is also strong opposition to weakening federal Obamacare rules requiring certain health benefits, and that prevent insurers from charging sicker customers more.
Affordable Care Act more popular than House health-care plan: Poll
Affordable Care Act more popular than House health-care plan: Poll

The Affordable Care Act for the first time is now viewed favorably by more than half of all Americans, according to a new poll released a day after the introduction of a Republican-drafted Senate bill which would gut that major health-care law better known as Obamacare.

In the past seven years that included 79 separate tracking surveys, the Kaiser Family Foundation had never before found more than 50 percent support for Obamacare by the public. A total of 51 percent of Americans now sees the ACA positively.

The poll also found that a House bill which closely resembles the new Senate bill released Thursday is still widely unpopular with the public — and that support for the House's proposal to repeal and replace much of Obamacare has significantly dropped among Republicans.

Fifty-five percent of the public views the House's American Health Care Act unfavorably, compared with just 30 percent with favorable views of that bill, according to the survey.

And since May, support among Republicans for the House bill has dropped from 67 percent to 56 percent. The House's bill barely won passage in May.

Kaiser's survey additionally revealed that strong majorities of Americans, regardless of political stripe, have favorable views of Medicaid, the government health coverage program for the poor.

Only slightly above one-third of people support cuts to the expansion of Medicaid benefits to more poor adults that Obamacare put into place, and for changing federal funding for all of Medicaid, which would limit how much states receive in financial support. Both of those proposals are key parts of the Senate and House bills, which would also change the way the federal government subsidizes the purchase of private individual health plans.

The survey also found that large shares of the public, and majorities of people in both major political parties, supported the federal government barring health insurers from charging people with pre-existing health conditions more money for their coverage, and requiring that insurance plans cover a certain minimum set of health benefits. Both the Senate and House bills could weaken such control by the federal government.

"The public at large is deeply skeptical about the repeal-and-replace plan, with support among the Republican base hanging in but slipping and in danger of falling further," said Drew Altman, CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Half of the public believed "they and their family will be better off if the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, compared to a little more than a third (36) who think they will be better off under the Republican plan," Kaiser said in a summary of the poll results.

Republicans were more likely than Democrats and independents to say they would be better off under a replacement plan, by a ratio of 3-to-1.

The survey, conducted from June 14 to last Monday, interviewed 1,208 adults. It has an overall margin of error of 3 percentage points.