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Obamacare poll: Only 1 in 5 Americans supports GOP ‘repeal and delay’ strategy

From left, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the House Republican Conference, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2017, following a closed-door meeting with the GOP caucus to discuss repeal of President Obama’s health care law now that the GOP is in charge of White House and Congress. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
From left, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chair of the House Republican Conference, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of La., meet with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 4, 2017, following a closed-door meeting with the GOP caucus to discuss repeal of President Obama’s health care law now that the GOP is in charge of White House and Congress. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)
By Carolyn Y. Johnson Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Republican plan to immediately do away with the Affordable Care Act and come up with a replacement later is out of sync with what most Americans want, according to a Kaiser Health Tracking poll. Only 1 in 5 people supports repealing President Obama’s health-care law before the replacement is worked out.

Republicans officially began the work to unravel the law this week, but a Trump transition team member told The Washington Post they had six months to come up with a replacement. The poll suggests the likely “repeal and delay” agenda, in which a replacement plan is crafted months after a vote to repeal parts of the law, isn’t supported by most voters.

Slightly more than a quarter of Americans wanted lawmakers to wait to repeal the law until the specific details of the replacement plan were announced. Nearly half of Americans oppose repeal of the law, which expanded insurance to more than 20 million Americans and dropped the uninsured rate to its lowest level since before the Great Recession.

“For me, the really pertinent question, the big question, is: Is there a mandate for repealing the ACA without a replacement plan?” said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “What we see in our poll and what we see in our focus groups is: If there is, it is a very weak one. It’s not obvious there’s a mandate for repealing the ACA without putting a replacement plan on the table.”

Health care was among the top three issues for all voters, according to the poll, but the Affordable Care Act was not the top priority for most people. Consumer issues, such as decreasing out-of-pocket costs for health care and lowering prescription drug costs were ranked as a top priority by more people than repealing the law.

In an interview earlier this week, J. Mario Molina, chief executive of Molina Healthcare, which sells insurance on the exchanges, argued that even Americans who don’t get their insurance through the law’s exchanges need to be paying attention to the debate.

“I don’t think the average citizen understands what’s going on – or what a big impact this will have on their lives,” Molina said. “We’re talking about really reforming the whole health-care system, and there’s going to be a ripple effect, and it’s going to ripple through all insurance coverage. So I think everyone needs to be concerned.”

Altman shared his observations of focus groups with Trump voters from Rust Belt areas. Those voters were concerned about rising deductibles, premiums and drug costs. Altman argued that those concerns weren’t likely to be solved by the replacement plans currently being discussed, because deductibles would be likely to get even higher.

“If they’ve been disappointed by the ACA, they’re likely to be even more disappointed by the Republican plans,” Altman said.

The survey was conducted Dec. 13-19 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,204 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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