Most Americans sick of Obamacare debate, oppose repeal

Workers pour juice as they promote health care coverage during a "Last Call" event in Denver, March 20, 2014.
Workers pour juice as they promote health care coverage during a "Last Call" event in Denver, March 20, 2014.

With less than a week left in open enrollment, a majority of Americans say they are fed up with the national debate over the Affordable Care Act, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The White House is poised to extend the enrollment by two weeks for those who have begun but not yet completed the enrollment process on, according to recent reports. Obama administration officials have repeatedly said in the past that the deadline would not be extended, but often noted they intended to allow more time for those who had yet to finalize coverage. Enrollment is not scheduled to open again until November. 

The new Kaiser poll found 53% have grown tired of the debate and want leaders to focus on other issues instead, while 42% say the debate should continue. Among independents, 51% are weary of the debate and 45% think it should continue. Only Republicans want debate to continue, by a 2% margin (47% to 49%). 

Similarly, the poll found a majority of Americans would rather see the law kept as is, perhaps with further legislation to improve it, while less than 30% want it repealed or repealed and replaced. When asked how they would like to see Congress address the health care law, 10% said to keep the law as is, 49% said to keep the law and improve it, 11% said to repeal the law and enact a Republican replacement plan, and 18% said repeal it with no replacement. Those numbers do not change drastically when independents were asked the question.

Among Republicans respondents, a full repeal without replacement is slightly more popular than a Republican repeal and replace plan, 27% to 31%. About three in 10 Republicans oppose repeal in any form. Conversely, only 7% of Democrats support repeal, with or without a new replacement plan, and a full 73% want the law kept in place but improved. 

Polling shows a majority of Americans like many of the provisions within the law, including some which most are unaware of. The change that allows parents to continue to cover young adult children on their plans is both well known (71%) and very popular (80%). Provisions like the elimination of out-of-pocket costs for preventative medicine and closing the Medicare prescription drug "doughtnut hole" are comparably popular with 77% and 79% reporting favorable views, respectively, but only about four in 10 American are aware either provision is in the Affordable Care Act. 

The individual mandate continues to be the least popular provisions, but most well-known. Only 35% like the requirement but 78% know that it is part of the law. 

Despite the significant campaign waged by administration officials in recent weeks, relying on both political and entertainment stars to encourage uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage before open enrollment ends, many still remain unaware of the forthcoming deadline. Only 39% accurately identified the March 31 deadline, while 43% said they didn't know about it. Half of those who are uninsured said the plan to remain so, with 40% planning to sign up in the near future. 

Officials from the Health and Human Services Department said early Wednesday that the website saw 1.2 million visits on Tuesday, up from 1 million the day before, and another million over the weekend, but many uninsured Americans say they do not plan to seek coverage in the next few days.