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Most Voters Now Favor Piece-by-Piece Fix of Obamacare

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

With a new Congress and a new president intent on repealing Obamacare, more voters than ever are calling for fixing it rather than throwing it out completely. Most expect major changes in the trouble-plagued national health care law in the near future, though.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that only 12% of Likely U.S. Voters want to leave Obamacare as it is. Still, just 30% now think Congress and the president should repeal the entire health care law and start over again, down from November’s high of 40% and matching the lowest finding in tracking since July 2014. Fifty-six percent (56%) say Congress and the president instead should go through the law piece by piece and improve it, the highest finding to date. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-four percent (74%) of voters think it’s likely that President Trump and the Republican majority in Congress will make significant changes to President Obama's signature legislative achievement in the next six months, including 42% who say that’s Very Likely. Just 20% believe major changes in Obamacare are unlikely in the near future, and that includes only six percent (6%) who say they are Not At All Likely.

A new high of 28% now say they or a member of their immediate family have bought health insurance through a government health care exchange established under the new law, up four points from October.

Yet even among these voters, 23% favor all-out repeal, while just 15% want the law kept as is. Sixty percent (60%) think Congress and the president should fix the law a piece at a time.

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The national telephone survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports on January 5 and 8, 2017. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Fieldwork for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Most voters have disliked the health care law since it was passed by congressional Democrats in March 2010 without a single Republican vote and have long believed it will raise health care costs while hurting the quality of care. Fifty-five percent (55%) favored repeal of the law within days of its passage by Congress. Shortly after Trump's election in November, voters ranked repealing and replacing Obamacare first on a list of five major issues facing the new president. 

Forty-six percent (46%) of Republicans want to see Obamacare repealed and replaced, but slightly more (49%) would rather the president and Congress go through the law piece by piece to improve it. Most Democrats (60%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (59%) share the latter view. Only 16% of voters in Obama's party and 29% of unaffiliateds favor repeal. Democrats (22%) are much stronger supporters than Republicans (3%) and unaffiliated voters (8%) of leaving the law as is.

Most voters across the partisan spectrum agree that Trump and Congress are likely to make significant changes in Obamacare in the next six months, but GOP voters are more confident that such chances are Very Likely.

Thirty-four percent (34%) of Democrats say they or someone in their immediate family have bought health insurance through a new health care exchange, compared to 21% of Republicans and 30% of unaffiliated voters.

Blacks and other minority voters are more likely than whites to have bought health insurance through an exchange or have an immediate family member who has done so. But most voters in all three groups think a piece-by-approach is needed to fix the law.

Twenty-five percent (25%) of voters who Strongly Approve of the job President Obama is doing think the law should be kept as is, but 67% want the new president and Congress to try to fix it. Sixty-five percent (65%) of those who Strongly Disapprove of Obama’s job performance want the law repealed, while 33% favor improving it a piece at a time.

Seventy percent (70%) of all voters said the health care law was important to their vote in the presidential election, with 46% who said it was Very Important.

House Republicans proposed a health care alternative to Obamacare last year which includes reforms for medical liability and malpractice as well as letting consumers buy health insurance across state lines. Voters aren’t sold on government caps on malpractice payouts but remain enthusiastic about removing state barriers to purchasing health insurance

Only 27% rate the health care law as a success. Thirty-nine percent (39%) see it as a failure, while 32% rank it as somewhere in between.

Most voters still say lowering health care costs is more important than universal coverage, but most also have said for years that Obamacare will increase, not decrease, health care costs

Citing big financial losses, several major health insurers have announced plans to back out of the state exchanges set up under Obamacare, leaving many Americans with fewer insurance options and higher rates. Voters don’t think taxpayers should help offset any jump in Obamacare insurance rates. 

Most voters expect big things from Trump and the Republican Congress right from the start but aren’t quite as optimistic as when Obama and Democrats took full charge in 2009.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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