Since the law was enacted in March of 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nicknamed Obamacare, has struggled in popularity in polls among the electorate. However, in the face of the election of President Donald Trump and his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare, several recent polls show the law rising in popularity.
Between two polls just 30 days apart, a recent Morning Consult poll demonstrates that popular approval for the law has increased 6% from 41% to 47%, while the disapproval rate has correspondingly dropped from 52% to 45%. NBC News/Wall Street Journal demonstrates as well that 45 percent of the public thinks that the law is a good idea, while just 41 percent think it is a bad idea. Similarly, a Fox News poll found that 50 percent of the public views the law favorably, while 46 percent view it unfavorably. While these numbers hardly indicate that Obamacare has suddenly achieved universal popularity, it is clear that the American public may be shifting its opinion about the law as the GOP repeal effort begins in full.
One potential reason for this shift in opinion is the problem that Republicans do not have any unified vision about what that alternative to health coverage should look like. A budget resolution passed by both the House and the Senate at the beginning of the month set January 27th as the date by which key committees were supposed to have finished drawing up replacement legislation, but not only did key committee members fail to complete this work, many have not even begun. Republicans, in other words, have not even managed to take a basic first step in drawing up legislative plans. According to the Washington Post, Republican legislators have struggled in private with articulating specific policy details and appear to be overcome with worry about political consequences of any replacement plan.
Health policy is historically a difficult political challenge to navigate - Democrats spent nearly twenty years developing the policy framework that eventually became Obamacare, and even in that extended timeframe there was a deep struggle to generate consistent popular support. The polling from the Obama administration provides clear evidence that the general public does not have anything close to universal support for Obamacare. However, with repeal on the table, the public is being asked to choose between Obamacare and some mysterious alternative that even Republicans themselves cannot articulate - which is likely why public opinion on the health law is turning around. It is possible that, given an opportunity, the public may yet rally around an alternative. However, the GOP has yet to begin to specify any alternative at all, let alone a viable one. Our staff at Salter Healthcare is closely watching the details of American healthcare policy and the efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act with respect to the effect that it may have on patient insurance coverage, and we will provide regular updates on any insurance coverage issues that may potentially affect individuals in our care.