Suffolk poll: Support for Senate health-care bill at ... 12%

The Suffolk poll is the bad news. The good news is that a separate poll out today from Marist has support for the bill higher. At, ah, 17 percent.

Dude, this thing is less popular than Kathy Griffin.

Actually, it’s no mystery why the numbers are garbage. Ask a Democrat if they support a Republican plan and they’ll cut you off with a “hell no” before you finish the question. Doesn’t matter what the details are; doesn’t matter whether they’ve heard anything about the bill. Replace ObamaCare with something cooked up by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan? HELL NO. Ask a Republican if they support the Republican plan, though, and you’re apt to get something more nuanced than a “hell yes.” Hell yes to replacing ObamaCare — but wasn’t there something in the paper yesterday about cuts to Medicaid under the new plan? And maybe subsidies shrinking for older, middle-class consumers? GOPers are going to want to hear more about this before giving a solid thumbs up. Put all that together, with so many Republicans in the “need to hear more” column, and you’re destined to have anemic approval opposite solid disapproval.

In the survey, 45% oppose the Senate bill and nearly as many, 40%, say they don’t know enough about it to have an opinion. The plan was drafted in closed sessions by a handful of Republican senators and staffers, and it hasn’t gone through the customary process of committee hearings.

Even among Republicans, only 26% support the Senate bill; 17% oppose it. A 52% majority say they need more information before they can express a view.

The Marist numbers are similar. Among Democrats opposition is ironclad, with just eight percent in favor of the bill versus 78 percent opposed. A mere 13 percent say they don’t know enough yet to have an opinion. Among Republicans it’s different: 35 percent approve versus 21 percent who disapprove, with a plurality of 39 percent claiming they haven’t heard enough yet to be sure. Assuming most of the undecideds flip to approval by the time the bill passes, you’ll have final polling that’s closer to a traditional 50/50 split — or, more likely, 40/60. After all, more than a fifth of GOPers currently oppose the bill as written, far more than the share of Democrats who support it. Independents seem to hate it too, splitting 13/68 in the Marist poll. How come? Suffolk offers a clue:

Pre-existing conditions: More than three-fourths, 77%, say it is “very important” that the health care system permit people with pre-existing medical conditions to buy health insurance at the same price as others. Just 6% say that protection isn’t important to them. The Senate bill requires insurers to accept those with pre-existing conditions, but it allows states to seek permission to reduce required benefits. Some patients could face dramatically higher costs or lifetime limits for treatments no longer defined as essential.

Medicaid expansion: Nearly two-thirds, 63%, say it is “very important” that lower-income people who became eligible for Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act continued to be covered by Medicaid. Just 10% say that isn’t important to them. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Senate plan, which would cut Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next 10 years, would result in 15 million fewer people being covered.

The Senate bill wouldn’t allow states to get waivers from ObamaCare’s requirement that insurers cover preexisting conditions but it would let them have waivers from the law’s Essential Health Benefits regulations, which could be used as a backdoor way to exclude some preexisting conditions from coverage. As for Medicaid, the public continues to look dimly on the idea of rolling back O-Care’s expansion, whatever the actual merits of the program in terms of better health outcomes. Yet another poll out today, this one from Morning Consult, asked voters how they felt about the GOP bill gradually reducing federal funding for Medicaid over seven years — a more precise explanation than the usual phrasing about “cutting.” The public split 27/53 on the idea. It’s a no-brainer that if Trump wants a more popular bill, he needs conservatives rather than moderates to bend a bit on Medicaid. But he can only lose two votes. If Paul, Lee, and Cruz all say no, it’s game over.

Here’s what the White House is up against. It’s going to be a long July.