Policy-ish

Negative View Of Health Overhaul Rises, But Opposition To Repeal Remains

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

He wasn't writing about health overhaul, but he could have been.

That's pretty much the central finding from the latest poll by folks at the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. Opposition to the federal law keeps building, but so does opposition to most efforts to repeal or change it.

Overall opposition to the law jumped 9 percentage points, from 41 percent in December to 50 percent in January, the poll found. The proportion of people favoring the law held steady at 41 percent.

But lest Republicans eager to make the law go away jump on those numbers proof the public supports their cause, they might have a look at some of the other details.

For example, a higher percentage of people want to expand the law (28 percent) than repeal it (20 percent). And overall, the percentage of people who want the law expanded or left alone (47 percent) is slightly larger than the percentage who would like to see it repealed and replaced or simply repealed (43 percent).

The public is also less than enthused about the GOP's plans to try to deprive the law of its funding. Only a third of respondents said they approved of the idea of cutting off funding to stop some or all of the law from being implemented; 62 percent disapproved.

And while the individual mandate that requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance starting in 2014 remains highly unpopular (opposed by 76 percent of respondents), most of the rest of the individual pieces of the law remain highly popular.

Even opinion on the individual mandate itself does not seem all that stable. Opposition falls to under 50 percent when told that the mandate is needed to require insurance companies to stop discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions. On the other hand, opposition grows even larger when people are told the requirement could mean people would have to buy insurance they find too expensive.

Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said despite periodic small swings from month to month, opinion on the law has actually remained remarkably stable. A large majority of Democrats favor it, most Republicans oppose it, and independents are "somewhere in the middle."

People like to say this law is unpopular, Altman said, but "what's more accurate to say is this is a law that does not have bipartisan support."

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