House Republicans have held dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and finally introduced a fleshed out plan to repeal and replace it this week, but a majority of Americans don’t actually want the law repealed, according to a new poll released Thursday.
The Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 55% want opponents of the Affordable Care Act to accept that it is the law of the land and work to improve it, while 38% say they should consider to repeal it.
That tepid support for repeal comes in spite of the law’s generally negative reception. About half of Americans say they have an unfavorable view of the law, with only about a third favoring it, and those numbers remain largely unchanged since November. The last time Americans had a generally favorable impression of the law was September 2012.
The poll also found a number of people are still under-informed about the major provisions of the health reform law. While large percentages of Americans are aware of the well-covered individual mandate and health insurance exchanges, many still don’t know about other parts of the law, especially the uninsured. Nearly four in 10 said they didn’t know the law provides financial assistance to help low and moderate income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs purchase their own coverage, and 46% of the uninsured were unaware of that help. Another 42% of the general public and 51% of the uninsured said they didn’t know about the law’s Medicaid expansion program to help more low-income Americans get health coverage. And while President Obama has spoken repeatedly about the law’s guarantee of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, 46% of all polls and 53% of the uninsured said they didn’t know the law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history.
The low-information might be in part because of the media coverage. The survey included questions about media coverage, and found that most say that coverage has been focused on politics rather than the impact of the law, 56% to 6%. About half of those polled saw a story about how the law was impacting someone and of those who did about twice as many said those stories were about a person or family who was being hurt rather than helped by the law.
But while the uninsured may not be well-informed about the law, they do believe getting health coverage is important. The poll found 70% of the uninsured believe health insurance coverage is very important and 73% say it’s something they need. Exactly half of the uninsured say they plan to get health insurance in the near future, but many still don’t know where.