As candidate Donald Trump hammered the Affordable Care Act last year as “a fraud,” “a total disaster” and “very bad health insurance,” more Americans than not seemed to agree with him.
Now that President Trump and fellow Republicans show signs of keeping their promise to dump the law, many appear to be having second thoughts.
Multiple polls show rising support for the ACA, including two recent ones indicating Americans feel more positively about it than ever. True, many still dislike what’s known as Obamacare. One survey showed 42 percent see it unfavorably while 48 percent viewed it favorably.
But as the national conversation swells on the fate of a law that affects millions of people in multifaceted ways — and the issue takes center stage at raucous town hall meetings — it’s increasingly clear that many Americans don’t see the ACA as an either-or proposition.
“At first it was a good deal — that was three or four years ago,” said Mark Bunkosky, 56, an independent contractor in Michigan who buys coverage through one of the law’s online portals. “Every year it’s gone up. From where it started, the premium has doubled, and now my deductible has also doubled. And my income has not doubled.
Bunkosky, a Republican, views the ACA unfavorably but believes Washington should fix it, not toss it. He supports keeping some of the law’s Medicaid coverage for low-income people and its prohibition on discriminating against those with preexisting illness.
his week Trump acknowledged that health care is “so complicated.” So are voter opinions on what to do next with the ACA, which expanded coverage to some 20 million.
“I didn’t like that it mandated people to carry health insurance. And I thought it was just a lie” when it promised affordability, said Amber Alexander, 27, a Pennsylvania independent whose seasonal income puts her on Medicaid in winter and a commercial plan the rest of the year.
However, she said, “I don’t think it should be thrown out altogether. There are people that do benefit from it, but there are also a lot of people that get screwed.”
Carol Friendly, 67, is an Oregon Republican who voted for Hillary Clinton for president and favors the health law’s Medicaid expansion, which many Republican policymakers excoriated but has gained support among some GOP governors. She objects to the ACA’s reproductive health coverage, saying consumers opposed to birth control and abortion shouldn’t have to pay for them.
On the other hand, “I know it put 22 million in the health care system that weren’t there before,” she said. “So that’s a plus.”
Adding to the political fog are mixed signals from Republicans.