According to a new POLITICO/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health poll, Americans remain divided over how to move forward on healthcare.
Recently, President Trump and Republicans in Congress proposed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as a potential replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. The AHCA was withdrawn, however, without a vote in Congress. The new survey shows that, following the ACHA’s withdrawal, political opinions remain dramatically polarized about the future of Obamacare. For nearly every question, Republican opinions differ substantially not only from Democratic opinions, but from those of the public as a whole.
Consistent with other polls showing low favorability ratings toward the Republicans’ AHCA, this poll shows that 60% of the public as a whole preferred keeping Obamacare over adopting the AHCA. However, despite the low favorability, 64% of Republicans nonetheless would have preferred the AHCA to Obamacare.
Moving forward, Americans are divided over what President Trump and Republicans should do on healthcare: 41% think that the GOP should work with Democrats to fix Obamacare, while another 19% think they should move on to other issues. A further 19% think they should try again to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans are similarly internally divided, while Democrats are more unified. Among Republicans, 60% want the GOP to either try a new repeal-and-replace plan (33%) or to repeal the law entirely (27%). Among Democrats, a 58% majority want the GOP to work with Democrats to fix Obamacare.
Robert Blendon, who co-directed the poll, discussed the poll’s political implications: “The findings mean different things for different parties. Democrats want to see their members of Congress try to fix the law or move on. Republicans, on the other hand, want to see another effort to repeal and replace, or just repeal the whole program. This suggests the GOP would likely face backlash from their constituencies if they were to move on to other issues without at least trying again to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
Additionally, Obamacare allowed for states to expand their Medicaid program, and the Republicans’ recent bill sought to repeal this measure. One element of the Republican proposal would have shifted control over directing the Medicaid program to states, in exchange for less federal money for the program. On this topic, a 54% majority of the public as a whole opposed this idea, instead preferring to keep Medicaid funding as it currently is. Once more Democrats and Republicans differ: 83% of Democrats support the current structure of Medicaid, while 67% of Republicans support increased state control in exchange for less federal funding.
These polls are part of an on-going series of surveys developed by researchers at the Harvard Opinion Research Program (HORP) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in partnership with POLITICO.
The research team at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health consists of: Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis and Executive Director of HORP; John M. Benson, Senior Research Scientist and Managing Director; Logan S. Casey, Research Analyst in Public Opinion; and Justin M. Sayde, Administrative and Research Manager. The research team at POLITICO was led by Joanne Kenen, Executive Editor, Health Care at Politico/Politico Pro.
Interviews for the first poll were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,019 randomly selected adults, ages 18 and older, via telephone (including cell phones and landlines) by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania. The interviewing period was March 22–26, 2017.
Interviews for the second poll were conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1,017 randomly selected adults, ages 18 and older, via telephone (including cell phones and landlines) by SSRS of Media, Pennsylvania. The interviewing period was March 29–April 2, 2017.
The data for each of the polls were weighted to reflect the demographics of the national adult population as described by the U.S. Census. When interpreting these findings, one should recognize that all surveys are subject to sampling error. Results may differ from what would be obtained if the whole U.S. adult population had been interviewed. The margin of error for the first poll is ±3.7 percentage points; for the second poll, ±3.8 percentage points
Possible sources of non-sampling error include non-response bias, as well as question wording and ordering effects. Non-response in telephone surveys produces some known biases in survey-derived estimates because participation tends to vary for different subgroups of the population. To compensate for these known biases and for variations in probability of selection within and across households, sample data are weighted by household size, cell phone/landline use and demographics (sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, and region) to reflect the true population. Other techniques, including random-digit dialing, replicate subsamples, and systematic respondent selection within households, are used to ensure that the sample is representative.