Gallup poll: 47% of Americans favor repealing 2010 healthcare law


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Healthcare reform remains a highly partisan divide, but more Americans want to repeal the Obama administration’s 2010 overhaul than want to leave it alone, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

The latest poll, which comes the same week that the Supreme Court announced it will look at the law’s constitutionality, shows that 47% of Americans want to do away with what opponents have dubbed Obamacare, while 42% want it kept in place. The breakdown is similar to an October Gallup poll that showed 40% of Americans backing passage of the healthcare law, while 48% said it was a bad thing.


The latest Gallup poll is based on interviews with 1,012 adults conducted from Nov. 3 to 6. The margin of error is plus or minus four percentage points.

The healthcare overhaul is a potent symbol of the Obama administration’s legislative efforts, both for its policy and its politics. It was pushed uphill through a recalcitrant Congress, with conservatives arguing the law went too far in expanding healthcare insurance by imposing a mandate to buy coverage and with liberals arguing it didn’t go far enough in making healthcare available and affordable for all parts of society.

Among other points, the package called for the establishment of insurance exchanges to allow consumers to better price coverage. It also included provisions that prevented companies from dropping clients because of prior medical conditions and that allowed children to remain under their family coverage until 26 years old. On the political level, the battle over healthcare reform showed a White House pushing hard but willing to compromise to get some sort of a victory even if it meant accepting a plan that was less than some of its own supporters had advocated. The political rationale was that accepting something good was more important than fighting unsuccessfully for something perfect.

As Obama seeks to use the healthcare law in his 2012 reelection drive, Republican presidential aspirants are united in wanting to repeal it. The latest Gallup poll found that 80% of Republicans surveyed want the healthcare changes dropped, while just 10% want them retained. Almost two of every three Democrats, or 64%, want the changes kept and 21% want them repealed. Independents split 48% to 43% in favor of repeal.

While healthcare will be one of the major issues in the presidential election cycle, the issue goes beyond the next election to the heart of how Americans see themselves getting healthcare and who picks up the tab.

In 2007, 69% of Americans said they believed that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure that all Americans had healthcare coverage, while just 28% rejected a central government role. That was the peak over the past decade. The current poll numbers show that 50% say it is a government responsibility and 46% disagree, a split that has remained about the same over the past three years of polling.


Americans also said they prefer a healthcare system based on private insurance rather than government-run, but even on this question the trend may be going the other way.

The current Gallup poll found 56% of Americans preferring the private insurance, but that was down from 61% in just one year. A government-run system was backed by 39%, up in a year from 34%. That shift, beyond the margin of error, may reflect the poor economy and the loss of jobs and shrinking medical coverage offered by many employers.

Meanwhile, a Pew poll in September found that Americans still wanted a government role in healthcare. It found that 31% of Americans wanted Congress to expand the existing law, while 38% wanted it repealed.


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-- Michael Muskal