With the Republicans having regained a majority in the U.S. House and narrowed the Democrats' majority in the Senate last Tuesday, there is a very real possibility the GOP will try to repeal all or parts of the landmark health care reform (HCR) bill enacted earlier this year. What does recent polling tell us about the public's attitudes toward repeal?
The Kaiser Family Foundation issued an October report, summarizing the findings of eight national polls taken from September 9-October 10. Bruce Drake of Politics Daily characterized the Kaiser report in the following terms: "roughly, five of the eight polls looked at by Kaiser fall in the column of pro-repeal sentiment (some by small margins) while three do not."
Kaiser also has just released its November Tracking Poll, the findings of which are reported in greater detail here. The survey was conducted in the four days immediately following Election Day, and many of the results are reported separately for the overall sample and for people who say they voted. The findings of this poll are similar to those of many other HCR polls. The overall legislation is not all that popular, with 49% of the general-public sample favoring repeal of some sort (25% favoring repeal in part and 24%, in whole). Forty percent seem favorable to the new law, divided nearly evenly between favoring expansion of its provisions and keeping them as is. The voter subsample comes down more negatively toward HCR, 56% favoring some type of repeal and 36% expressing favorable sentiments.
As with virtually all HCR polls, however, the Kaiser survey shows specific provisions to be far more popular than the overall package. Among partial-repeal advocates in the general-public sample, 75-85% still favor small-business tax credits to help fund insurance, prohibiting coverage denial due to pre-existing conditions, filling in the "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage that seniors must pay out of their own pockets, and financial assistance to low-moderate income individuals to help them purchase coverage. The partial-repealers are lukewarm (55% support) on upper-income tax increases and downright hostile to the individual mandate that persons be covered (19% support). Even among persons endorsing full repeal, the tax-credit and pre-existing condition provisions of HCR each enjoy roughly 50% support.
Similarly, an October poll for Bloomberg News found most specific HCR provisions to enjoy support. According to this article on the Bloomberg poll, "Among eight of the law’s provisions on which the poll sought opinions, repeal was backed by a majority of likely voters for just two: requiring everyone to have health insurance and taxing companies that offer especially generous coverage."