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Monday, 16 September 2013

Pew Research Center/USA Today Poll Examines Range of Health Care Issues

With the sign-up period for uninsured people (who aren't otherwise eligible for Medicaid) to join health care marketplaces called "exchanges" beginning in about two weeks, the Pew Research Center and USA Today have released a jointly conducted poll on a wide range of health care issues.

Some Republican elected officials have been doing whatever they can in recent months to try to derail, delay, defund, or destroy the Affordable Care Act before one of its major provisions, the system of exchanges, goes into effect on October 1. Some have said they will not help their constituents sign up for the Obamacare exchanges, whereas others have tried to dissuade professional sports leagues from working with the Obama Administration on ACA-related outreach.

After asking survey respondents whether they supported or opposed the ACA, Pew-USA Today pollsters asked opponents of the law a follow-up question: Did they want Congressional detractors of the law to "Do what they can to make the law work as well as possible" or "Do what they can to make the law fail"? As a result of these questions, the American public (generalizing from the nationally representative survey sample) falls into the following camps (the percentages sum to 101% due to rounding):
  • Forty-two percent support Obamacare.
  • Twenty-seven percent oppose Obamacare, but want their leaders to try to make it work.
  • Twenty-three percent oppose the law, and want their leaders to try to make if fail.
  • Four percent oppose the law, but don't know what course of action they want their leaders to take.
  • Five percent were undecided on whether they supported or opposed Obamacare in the first place.

Though only about one-quarter of Americans, overall, endorse the "make it fail" position, 64% of those who identify as "Tea Party Republicans" do. Whereas GOP officeholders working feverishly to put the kibosh on Obamacare appear to be hugely out-of-step with the U.S. public, one must remember that in their home states and districts, they could well be very much in tune with local sentiments (and maybe even fearing a primary challenge from the right).

From the perspective of Democratic officeholders and advocates of expanded health-insurance coverage, the key issue is potential enrollees' awareness of the exchanges and inclination to sign-up. Pew-USA Today also queried respondents on this topic. Here are some key findings (quoting from the above-linked report):

Awareness of the availability of health insurance exchanges is much lower in those states that have decided against state involvement in the exchanges. While about six-in-ten (59%) of those who live in states with state-based health care exchanges (or state-federal partnerships) say that exchanges will be available in their state, just 44% of those in states that have decided not to create their own exchanges say this (the federal government will run these state-level exchanges)...

Most people who do not have health insurance (63%) say they plan to get health insurance within the next six months... Nearly a third (32%) of those who currently lack health insurance have no plans to get coverage in the next six months.


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