Most Americans Oppose The Senate’s Obamacare Replacement Bill
The GOP's effort to 'repeal and replace' Obamacare faces another roadblock, namely the fact that the American public doesn't support their replacement plan.
One day after Senate Republicans abandoned plans to hold a vote before the July 4th holiday recess, there’s more bad news for them. Three new polls are showing that the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which may qualify as the worst name for a bill in a long time, is deeply unpopular with members of the public, a problem that is likely to make getting the bill through the Senate and House and to the President’s desk could prove to be difficult.
First up, there’s a new poll from NPR/PBS and Marist College showing that just 17% of Americans support the bill:
Americans broadly disapprove of the Senate GOP’s health care bill, and they’re unhappy with how Republicans are handling the efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.
Just 17 percent of those surveyed say they approve of the Senate’s health care plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act. Fifty-five percent say they disapprove, while about a quarter said they hadn’t heard enough about the proposal to have an opinion on it.
With mounting defections within the GOP caucus over the bill, leaders decided to delay a vote on the legislation until after Congress returns from next week’s July Fourth recess.
A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Monday found that if the bill were enacted, 22 million fewer people would have health insurance over the next decade due, in part, to the bill’s rollback of Medicaid expansion.
With numbers like these, it’s not surprising the Republican leadership in Congress is having a difficult time building consensus,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
While Democratic opposition to the bill, as expected, is high, GOP support for the Senate GOP’s plan is very soft. Twenty-one percent of Republicans oppose the bill and just 35 percent support it. Sixty-eight percent of independents also oppose the proposed legislation.
In fact, while many Americans want changes to the ACA, also known as Obamacare, they want it to be more far-reaching. A 46 percent plurality say they want to see the ACA do more, while just 7 percent want it to do less. Keeping the ACA and having it do less is essentially what GOP congressional plans are doing.
Only 17 percent want the 2010 bill left intact and unchanged, while a quarter of Americans want it repealed completely — including just over half of Republicans.
The results from the latest Morning Consult poll are similar:
Just 38 percent of voters approve of the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted before Senate leaders pulled the latest version of their bill in an effort to win over more GOP votes.
That’s fewer than the 45 percent who disapprove of the Republican health care bill. Another 17 percent say they don’t know or have no opinion of the bill.
Six in 10 Republican voters approve of the bill, but a quarter of members of President Donald Trump’s party disapprove. The numbers among Democrats are a mirror image: Twenty-five percent approve, and 64 percent disapprove. But independents tilt against the measure: Only 30 percent approve, and 43 percent disapprove.
The intensity gap is on the side of the bill’s opponents: Thirty-one percent of voters overall “strongly” disapprove of the bill, roughly double the 16 percent who “strongly” approve.
The results are similar to voters’ views of the health care bill that recently passed the House — though the wording of the poll question was changed in this new survey to reflect the Senate’s consideration of its own measure.
Other measures in the poll also point to the bill’s challenges. More voters think the bill will make the nation’s health care system worse (41 percent) than believe will make it better (29 percent). More think it will increase costs for their families (42 percent) than think it will decrease those costs (21 percent). Thirty-eight percent think the bill will hurt the quality of health care, and only 26 percent think quality would be improved.
Though the poll was conducted before the CBO released its projection that 22 million fewer Americans would have health insurance if the Senate bill became law, the report confirms voters’ beliefs: Forty-six percent say they expect the bill would decrease the number of Americans with health insurance, while only 21 percent believe more people would be insured.
As Senate Republicans attempt to recalibrate the bill to rein in moderate and conservative defectors, voters are divided on the scope of the effort. Thirty-eight percent say the legislation goes too far in making changes to the health care system, and another 23 percent say it doesn’t go far enough.
It’s a split that exists within the GOP, as well.
“The tension between moderate Republicans and hard-liners that is playing out in the Senate is mirrored in the polling,” said Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult co-founder and chief research officer. “While 31 percent of Republican voters think the Senate bill doesn’t go far enough in making changes to the health care system, 18 percent thinks it goes too far.”
Finally, there’s a similar result from the new Suffolk University poll:
A newly released USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that only 12 percent of Americans support the Senate Republican plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said Congress should either work to fix problems with ObamaCare or leave it alone.
The USA Today survey comes after a new NPR poll where just 17 percent of respondents said they supported the GOP legislation.
While Republican voters are not enamored of the Senate plan, there is still strong support in the party for doing away with ObamaCare.
The USA Today survey found eight out of 10 Republicans said they supported ObamaCare repeal, and a third said they would support a repeal plan even if a replacement plan was not ready. Only 2 percent of Democrats shared that sentiment.
Some additional findings from the Suffolk poll show just how difficult a job the Senate has ahead of itself:
Whatever the political disagreements, there is an overwhelming national consensus on what provisions any health care plan should include:
- Pre-existing conditions: More than three-fourths, 77%, say it is “very important” that the health care system permit people with pre-existing medical conditions to buy health insurance at the same price as others. Just 6% say that protection isn’t important to them. The Senate bill requires insurers to accept those with pre-existing conditions, but it allows states to seek permission to reduce required benefits. Some patients could face dramatically higher costs or lifetime limits for treatments no longer defined as essential.
- Medicaid expansion: Nearly two-thirds, 63%, say it is “very important” that lower-income people who became eligible for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act continued to be covered by Medicaid. Just 10% say that isn’t important to them. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate plan, which would cut Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next 10 years, would result in 15 million fewer people being covered.
- Lower premiums: Close to six in 10, 57%, say it is “very important” that insurance premiums go down in price; 17% say that’s not important. The CBO predicts that premiums would rise for a few years under the Senate plan, then fall by about 30%. But overall health care costs would go up for most people because deductibles would be higher and some states wouldn’t require insurers to provide some benefits that are now mandated.\
The Suffolk poll also finds that public opinion on the Affordable Care Act isn’t nearly as negative as the GOP likes to believe:
The differences between the polls can be attributed primarily to two factors. First of all, the NPR/Marist poll was of American “adults” while the Morning Consult and Suffolk University polls were specifically limited to registered voters. Additionally, the NPR and Morning Consult polls were taken before the CBO released its score of the BCRA, which forecasts that some 22 million Americans would lose coverage under the Senate bill. The Suffolk University poll, meanwhile, was taken over a period of time that included the release of the CBO report and the news that the Senate would not vote on the bill this week as previously planned.
Even taking these differences into account, though, neither number is good for Senate Republicans and both demonstrate just how difficult it is going to be for Republicans to get this bill or anything like it through the House and Senate before the summer recess, which now appears to be the new deadline they’ve set for themselves. With most Americans opposed to the bill, and the momentum now seems to be on the side of the opponents of the effort to ‘repeal and replace’ the Affordable Care Act, it’s like that Senators and members of the House will face significant pressure from home regarding this matter in the coming weeks. For those who are already on record in opposition to the bill, that’s likely to harden their position absent concessions that would likely fundamentally alter the bill itself, thus risking losing support elsewhere. For those who are on the fence, the fact that the bill is so widely unpopular, and even unpopular among Republicans according to some measures, is likely to push at least some of them into the no column. This is important not only in the Senate, where the current head count for the BCRA shows that Republicans do not have the fifty votes they would need to pass the bill with the Vice-President’s tie-breaking vote, but also in the House, where the American Health Care Act passed last month with just two votes to spare and the House Freedom Caucus is already signalling that it would likely oppose the Senate bill unless changes are made.
With respect to the health care bill itself, both The New York Times and The Washington Post have reports out this morning about the behind the scenes events that led to the Senate bill being pulled yesterday afternoon that are worth reading for those who want to keep up to date on where this whole saga is likely to take. Currently, though, the plan appears to be to try to make revisions to the bill by the end of the week with the goal of coming up with something that has a better chance of passing the Senate than the current BCRA. Assuming that can be done, which is a huge assumption at this point, the bill would apparently be made public in time for the Congressional Budget Office to score it during the week that Congress is out of session after the 4th of July and then resume debate when the Senate reconvenes. As I said, the goal now appears to be to get the matter to a vote in the Senate and in the House and to the President’s desk by the beginning of the Congressional break that takes place between the beginning of August to September 4th. As we’ve seen from the troubles that the AHCA had in the House and that the BCRA has had in the Senate, that’s not going to be easy at all.
Update: This post was updated to include the findings of the Suffolk University poll, which was released after the post was initially published.
Update # 2: The numbers just keep getting worse for the GOP. A new Quinnipiac poll released this afternoon shows just 16% of registered voters support the BCRA:
A new Quinnipiac poll finds just 16% of Americans approve of the Republican health care plan to replace Obamacare, while 58% disapprove.
If a lawmaker votes for the Republican plan, 46% of voters are less likely to support their reelection, with 17% more likely and 33% who say the health care vote won’t matter in their decision.
Given these polls, I would expect more Republican Senators to come out against the bill.
Update #3 (6/29/2017): A new Fox News poll released last night is a bit better for the GOP, but still pretty bad:
By two-to-one, American voters oppose the Senate health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act — even as a majority wants to repeal at least some of the existing law.
That’s according to the latest Fox News Poll, conducted Sunday through Tuesday evenings.
Among Republicans, 51 percent favor the Senate bill. That’s in contrast to 75 percent support for the House bill last month.
Overall, 27 percent of voters favor the Senate proposal, 54 percent oppose it, and 18 percent are unsure. For comparison, in polling conducted after the House health care bill passed, 40 percent favored it and 54 percent were opposed (May 2017). That’s the plan President Trump has called “mean.”
It seems likely that voters are increasingly anxious about another significant change to their health insurance,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll along with Democrat Chris Anderson.
“I doubt they know much about the substantive differences between the House and Senate bills.”
Meanwhile, a record number of voters, 52 percent, view the Affordable Care Act positively. That’s up from 50 percent in March, and 41 percent in August 2015. Forty-six percent currently view ObamaCare negatively.
Lower-income voters (55 percent), women (58 percent), urban voters (63 percent), non-whites (77 percent), and Democrats (89 percent) give ObamaCare some of its highest favorable ratings.
When asked what should happen to President Obama’s signature health care law, a majority wants to repeal all (28 percent) or parts of the law (33 percent). Some 25 percent say expand it, while 12 percent would leave it as is.
One-third of those who have a favorable view of ObamaCare want to repeal at least some of the law (33 percent).
Yet even those who want to repeal all or some of the Affordable Care Act are skeptical of the Senate bill: 38 percent favor it, and 38 percent are opposed.
President Trump receives his worst job ratings on health care: 36 percent approve vs. 55 percent disapprove. That puts him underwater by 19 points.
Taking these five polls together here’s what we see that support for the Senate GOP’s bill is averaging 22% support, while an average of 52.2% oppose it. And that’s after the bill has been out in the public for a week.