Majority Dislikes Individual Mandate, But Opposes Health Care Repeal

The health care reform law turns one year old today, and a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that while Americans are evenly split over whether they like the law, a majority opposes repealing it.

In a wide-ranging survey, Kaiser found that opposition to the law focused mainly on one provision, the individual mandate that requires all Americans to have coverage or pay a penalty. And despite Congressional Republicans’ declarations early this year that the midterm elections were a referendum on the law, the Kaiser poll found that a majority of Americans oppose repealing it — and that one-third would actually like to see it expanded.In the poll of adults nationwide, 42% of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of the law overall, compared to 46% who had an unfavorable opinion of it. At the same time, 51% said they opposed repealing the law — including 30% who said they’d like to see it expanded instead.

On the other side, 39% said they’d like to see the law repealed in some capacity. Twenty percent said it should be nixed entirely, while 19% said it should be repealed and replaced with a GOP alternative.

The current TPM Poll Average pegs support for repeal at 50.7%, with opposition to repeal at 42.6%.

The poll also found that the desire for repeal focused on the individual mandate. When asked about specific provisions in the law, clear majorities supported keeping every provision except for that mandate.

About three-fourths of all respondents favored keeping provisions to close a prescription drug loophole, help low-income people buy coverage and prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. Over 80% supported the provision to give tax breaks to small businesses to provide insurance for their employees. But when it came to the individual mandate, two-thirds said they favored repealing the provision.

The individual mandate was also a primary reason for respondents’ unfavorable take on the law as a whole.

About one in five respondents cited that as the main reason they opposed the law. Another 20% said the mainly opposed the law because they feared it would be too costly, while 19% said their main problem was a general “government-related issue.” Almost all other concerns — such as that the bill would harm small businesses, or that it could limit free choice — polled in the low single digits.

Previous polls have also found opposition to the law as a whole focused largely on the individual mandate.

The Kaiser poll was conducted March 7-14 among 1,202 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.0%.

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