Last week Speaker John Boehner gave conflicting statements on what the House Republican position is on repealing Obamacare now that President Obama won the election. Boehner can’t make up his mind, but a majority of Americans have made their minds up. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Tuesday finds that a majority of Americans do not want the law repealed. In fact, only 33% support repeal. This is an all time low.
For over a year after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act a majority of voters said they opposed the law which Republicans called “Obamacare” as a derogatory term. Republicans used distortions of the law to propel themselves into the majority in 2010 elections. As recently as October 2011, 51% of the population had an unfavorable opinion of the law. In July, 45% wanted it repealed. In Kaiser’s post-election poll, however, 43% now favor the law but only 33% want to see Congress repeal it.
Previous polling has shown that Americans were more supportive of Obamacare’s individual provisions than a generic question on the law itself. Voters approved of allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans, and preventing insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions. Women, particularly young, women are very supportive of the contraception provisions. Now the law as a totality has more acceptance.
This is bad news for the Republican in Congress who campaigned on repeal. Anti-Obamacare candidates spent over $20 million in advertisements attacking Obamacare in the recent election. They now find themselves on the wrong side of their constituents on this major law that will go into full effect in 2014—the same year the House and many Senators must run for re-election.
It is not clear if House and Senate Republicans are aware of popular opinion or care. Last week House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) acknowledged that Obamacare is “the law of the land,” suggesting that Republicans in Congress may finally stop their repeated attempts to repeal the law. Shortly afterwards, his office quickly retracted those statements saying that Republicans remain very committed to opposing Obama’s health reform.
The Kaiser post-election poll had more clues about the mood of the people. When asked if the Healthcare law would be good or bad for the country, 43% said good only 30% said it would be bad. Exit polling said that among voters who mentioned healthcare as an issue they cared about 55% voted for Obama, 41% chose Romney. Voters who said healthcare was their top issue voted 75% for Obama.
In general, the economy and the direction of the country were the top issues for over 80% of voters. Healthcare was a main issue for 69% of voters one percent less than Medicare. In terms of importance to voters, healthcare beat out Medicaid, foreign policy, women’s health, the middle class, and the political party of the candidates.
The evidence that voters want Obamacare to remain is clear. Whether Republicans will stop their relentless efforts to repeal it is not clear. Perhaps if they see there is no prize for repeal they may move on to other issues like the economy. The next few weeks and months will be telling.
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