IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Republicans lack public support for new health care scheme

As an electoral matter, for GOP policymakers to ignore Americans' attitudes on life-and-death legislation is to play with fire.
Image: U.S. President Trump celebrates with Republican House members after healthcare bill vote at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) celebrates with Congressional Republicans in the Rose Garden of the White House after the House of Representatives approved...

There doesn't appear to be any video of the comments, but Barack Obama reportedly spoke at a New York event in April and made a point about health care and public attitudes.

"The Affordable Care Act has never been more popular," the former president reportedly said, "and it's more popular than the current president."

That's quantifiably true -- on both points. Americans' support for the ACA has never been higher, and the health care reform measure is nearly 10 percentage points more popular than Donald Trump, the Republican president desperate to destroy the law that's lowered the uninsured rate to its lowest point on record.

Even the latest Fox News poll found that most Americans now believe "Obamacare" has been good for the country.

But arguably more interesting than comparing the ACA's support to Trump is comparing the ACA's support to Trump's party's alternative. Public Policy Polling reported yesterday:

Health care continues to be a political disaster for Republicans. Only 24% of voters support the American Health Care Act to 55% who oppose it. It doesn't even have majority support among GOP voters: 42% support it to 29% who are opposed. Voters prefer the current Affordable Care Act to the alternative of the AHCA by a 51/34 spread. [...]The health care bill could have major political implications in 2018. By a 24-point margin voters say they're less likely to vote for a member of Congress who supported the American Health Care Act.

The PPP data is consistent with what we've seen from several other pollsters. The latest national Quinnipiac survey, for example, found that only 17% of Americans approve of the Republican health care plan. The most recent Fox News poll showed an identical result: just 17% of the public likes the GOP proposal.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that only 8% -- that's not a typo, it's literally 8% -- of the country wants the House Republicans' bill, which Trump heralded as a triumph of politics and policy, to become law.

Republicans are no doubt aware of this. Indeed, it helps explain why they're trying so desperately to legislate in secret. But as an electoral matter, for GOP policymakers to ignore Americans' attitudes on life-and-death legislation is to play with fire. Given partisan instincts and widespread tribalism, it takes effort to come up with a proposal as unpopular as the Republican health care plan -- but they've managed to pull it off anyway.