About one in five Americans believe, inaccurately, that last year’s sweeping healthcare reform law was wiped out when House Republicans voted to repeal it in January, according to a new poll.
Twenty-two percent believe the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is no longer law, and another 26 percent are unsure, the Kaiser Health Tracking poll found. Slightly more than half (52 percent) correctly said the reform law is still in place.
The poll indicates trouble for the White House's efforts to sell the reform law to the public as Republicans work to undo President Obama's major legislative achievement. The House voted last month to repeal the law, but an early February repeal vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate failed along party lines.
The Senate vote proved it will be virtually impossible to pass outright repeal of the law over the next two years, but Republicans are using different tactics to chip away at what they call a government takeover of the healthcare system. House Republicans voted to withhold funds to implement the law in a seven-month spending bill approved last week, setting up a battle with the Senate and adding to the possibility of a government shutdown.
Republicans have also introduced a series of bills that would eliminate various unpopular elements of the reform law, such as the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance by 2014. The Kaiser poll found that two in three Americans oppose the so-called individual mandate.
Meanwhile, federal courts have already ruled on five challenges to the law. Three judges — all Clinton appointees — have upheld the law, while two Republican-appointed judges have struck it down. A federal judge in Florida who ruled against the law is expected to say next week if he meant to halt the law’s implementation.
According to the Kaiser poll, the elderly have increasingly negative views of the law. Fifty-nine percent said they had unfavorable views in February, up from 40 percent in December. That could spell bad news for the administration, which is counting on the law’s new benefits for seniors to help boost its popularity.
The poll found that 48 percent overall are opposed to the law, while 43 percent favor it. About one in five want to see the law replaced with a Republican alternative, while the same percentage want the law booted entirely.
A majority (61 percent) said they don’t approve of Republicans' efforts to starve the law of funding.