Poll shows most Americans oppose Obama healthcare

Reuters, Washington

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 - Page 7

Most Americans oppose US President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform even though they strongly support most of its provisions, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday, with the US Supreme Court set to rule within days on whether the law should stand.

Fifty-six percent of people are against the healthcare overhaul and 44 percent favor it, according to the online poll.

However, strong majorities favor most of the provisions in the law that has polarized opinions among the US public.

A full 82 percent of survey respondents, for example, favoring banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and 61 percent are in favor of allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

The glaring exception being the “individual mandate,” which requires most US residents to have health insurance. Sixty-one percent of Americans are against the mandate, while 39 percent favor it.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the 2010 healthcare reform, Obama’s signature domestic policy, this week, and how the court’s decision is framed politically could influence the outcome of the Nov. 6 general election.

Americans are strongly divided on the issue along partisan lines. Among Republicans, 86 percent oppose and 14 percent favor the law and Democrats back it by 75 percent to 25 percent, the poll showed.

However, in what could be a key indicator for the presidential contest, people who describe themselves as political independents oppose the law by 73 percent to 27 percent.

Republicans have made calls to “repeal and replace” the law, condemned by conservatives as a government intrusion into private industry and the lives of private citizens.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the law if he defeats Obama, although he has not offered a plan of his own. Obama, who says he modeled the measure on a healthcare plan Romney passed when he was governor of Massachusetts, has defended it.

Democrats back the measure as an effort to improve the lives of Americans and essential to control spiraling costs that are undermining the country’s overall economic health. Healthcare expenditures in the US neared US$2.6 trillion in 2010, more than 10 times the US$256 billion spent in 1980, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The poll also found that a good portion of the opposition — including about one-third of Republicans and independents who disagree with the law — to the healthcare law is because Americans want more reform, not less of it.

Seventy-one percent of Republican opponents reject it overall, while 29 percent feel it does not go far enough, while independent opponents are divided 67 percent to 33 percent. Among Democratic opponents, 49 percent reject it overall, and 51 percent wish the measure went further.

There was party division in Americans’ view of the individual mandate. Among Republicans, 81 percent disapprove of the law, while for independents its 73 percent. A majority of Democrats — 59 percent — favor the individual mandate.

The survey of 1,043 Americans was conducted from June 19 to June 23 with a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.