Many think health overhaul should do more, survey finds
It’s no vindication for Obama’s plan, but it could discomfit those who aim to repeal it.
washington — President Obama’s healthcare overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture’s not that clear.
An Associated Press poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of healthcare — by 2 to 1.
“I was disappointed that it didn’t provide universal coverage,” said Bronwyn Bleakley, 35, a biology professor from Easton, Mass.
More than 30 million people would gain coverage in 2019 when the law is fully phased in, but 20 million or so others would remain uninsured. Bleakley, who was uninsured early in her career, views the overhaul as a work in progress.
The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the healthcare system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in healthcare at all.
The AP poll was conducted by Stanford University with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Overall, 30% favored the legislation, 40% opposed it, and 30% were neutral.
Those numbers are no endorsement for Obama’s plan, but the survey also found a deep-seated desire for change that could pose a problem for Republicans. Only 25% in the poll said minimal tinkering would suffice for the healthcare system.
The poll did find some agreement among people who think the law should do more and those who think government should get out.
Broad majorities of both the “get-outs” and “domores” said medical care, health insurance and prescription drugs cost too much. And most said the system should aim to increase the number of people with insurance and enable Americans to get the care they need, while improving quality.
The differences emerge when it comes to the means:
Only 25% of the “getouts” favor requiring health insurance companies to sell coverage to people regardless of preexisting medical conditions, while 54% of the “do-mores” support it. The law requires insurers to cover children regardless of health problems starting this year, and that protection is extended to people of all ages in 2014.
Among those who want a law that does more, 68% favor requiring medium to large companies to provide insurance to their workers or pay a fine; that stands at 28% among those who want the government out. The law does not require employers to offer coverage, but it hits companies that have 50 or more workers with a penalty if any full-time employee gets a government subsidy for health insurance.
The “get-outs” overwhelmingly reject the healthcare law’s requirement that most Americans carry health insurance starting in 2014. But the “domores” are split, with 34% favoring the mandate, 33% opposing it and 32% neutral.
The survey was conducted Aug. 31to Sept. 7 and involved interviews with 1,251 randomly chosen adults nationwide. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.