Harvard poll: Majority says ObamaCare faring poorly -- even before WH acknowledged steep premium hikes

Everyone talks about the weather, Mark Twain once observed, but no one does anything about it. Lots of people talk about ObamaCare too, and the majority are none to happy about it, according to a new Harvard poll taken last month. Fifty-four percent of respondents consider it to perform poorly, but no consensus exists for what to do about it:

A new poll conducted for POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health finds that 54 percent of likely voters think Obamacare is working poorly. Ninety-four percent of self-identified Donald Trump voters hold that view, while 79 percent of Hillary Clinton supporters believe the law is working well.

The poll was conducted before the Obama administration this week announced average premiums for key Obamacare plans will rise by 25 percent on average next year and about 20 percent of customers could only shop for plans from one insurer. The disclosure unleashed a new round of Republican criticism and underscored uncertainty over Obamacare’s long-term prospects.

The stark divide over Obamacare stems from fundamental beliefs about the government’s role in health care, the poll suggests — an indicator of how challenging it might be for Congress to fix the law’s problems. Just one in four Trump voters say the government should take on a “major role” in improving health care, compared to 85 percent of Clinton supporters.

The outcomes of this poll aren’t just predictable on the basis of candidate choice. The stronger the support for a role for federal government oversight in health care, the more likely one is to be satisfied with the Affordable Care Act. Only 30% of those who believe that Washington should play a major role in “improving” the health care system thought ObamaCare was working poorly, but that number jumped to 78% among those who see a “minor” role for federal government, and 96% among those who want the feds to play no role at all. Similarly, the ACA gets high marks from 67% of the “majors,” but only 22% of the “minors” and just 2% of the “nones.”

However, the ACA isn’t the most pressing problem for voters when it comes to deciding their vote. A majority of 59% chose ObamaCare as a very or extremely important part of their consideration, but Medicare scored a 78%, Medicaid 64%, and … 65% said that the government’s role in slowing healthcare costs would be major factor, too. Abortion and epidemiological research (57%) and Zika (38%) were the only issues to score lower than ObamaCare.

And on actually fixing ObamaCare, there’s an almost even split between seven different options, running from full repeal (20%) to expanding the program (8%). Replacing ObamaCare with a single-payer system is remarkably unpopular (14%), even among Hillary Clinton’s voters (25%), who much prefer to keep ObamaCare as is (34%). Trump supporters are the most unified on any option with full repeal (40%), but replacing with a tax credit program (22%) and scale back and have states run the program (20%) also draw significant support.

Politico notes that the controversy over ObamaCare will rage on long after its namesake has retired. Unfortunately, so will the lack of consensus over how to move past it, or even whether it’s necessary.

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