Poll Shows Split Over Repeal of Health Reform Law, Reflecting Divisions in Congress
Online survey also reveals support for keeping key provisions as the law rolls out over time.
Poll results released Dec. 6 by market research firm Harris Interactive and health news syndicator HealthDay indicate that 40 percent of American adults want to repeal all or most of the health care reform package that was signed into law in March 2010. However, 31 percent of respondents favor keeping all or most of the law's provisions, and another 29 percent aren't sure what should be done.
The pollsters said the conflicting views reflect divisions in Congress, where Republicans will take control of the House of Representatives in January following election gains at the polls last month. Many Republican representatives have pledged to dismantle or curtail the law.
At the same time, many of those who want the law repealed favor keeping many of its key components. Specifically, nearly two-thirds of poll respondents like that the law prevents insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Sixty percent want to keep the provision of tax credits for small businesses that provide their employees with health insurance. And just over half support the law for allowing children to remain on their parents insurance until they are 26.
The poll surveyed 2,019 adults online between Nov. 19-23, 2010. Harris Interactive and HealthDay said figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population.
"Additional poll results indicate that many Americans want to repeal the bill not because they dislike the specifics, but because they feel it is an expensive expansion of an already big government," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive's public opinion poll. Taylor noted that 81 percent believe the law will result in higher taxes, could lead to rationing of health care (74 percent), and could reduce the quality of care they will receive (77 percent).
Perhaps part of the explanation for this paradox was seen in a previous Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, which discovered that Americans have little knowledge of the specifics of the more than 2,500-page law. "There's a substantial gap in the general public understanding, [but] the more informed people are, the more they understand," said Thomas R. Oliver, professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.
"I think this suggests that as the public becomes more familiar with the law and how it will benefit them and their families, support will probably climb," said Sara Collins, vice president for Affordable Health Insurance at The Commonwealth Fund. She continued, "There's just a lag while immediate provisions are rolling out like young-adult coverage."