NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Both political parties are divided over health care reform, but so are the American people, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.
The survey, conducted just days before Republicans members of the House made good on their pledge to ceremoniously repeal the law, found that public opposition to the legislation grew in January. Americans with unfavorable views of the reform rose to 50%, up from 41% in December.
Despite the uptick in opposition, however, Americans aren't exactly on board with Republican efforts to overturn the law passed by the Obama administration in March 2010.
According to survey results, the percentage of people who want to expand the law (28%) or keep it as is (19%) is roughly the same as those who want to repeal/replace the law (24%), or simply repeal it (20%).
Additionally, a majority of those surveyed (67%) disapprove of slowing down the law through the appropriations process and other means, such as defunding, in lieu of repealing it.
"The public is frustrated with politics as usual and may be saying that defunding a law is not how government should work," Mollyann Brodie, senior vice president and director of the Kaiser's Foundation’s Public Opinion and Survey Research group, said in a press release.
However, researchers pointed out the scattered public opinion isn't just bipartisan wrangling. Part of the problem is that many Americans agree with some but not all parts of the legislation.
For example, substantial majorities favor gradually closing the coverage gap known as the Medicare doughnut hole (85%), providing subsidies for low- and moderate-income Americans to buy health insurance (79%), establishing a voluntary insurance program known as the CLASS Act to help pay for long-term care services (76%) and expanding the Medicaid program (67%).
But conversely, a majority oppose requirements that all but the smallest employers should offer health insurance to workers or pay a penalty (51%). Perhaps more controversial is the fact that a majority don’t agree that all Americans should obtain health coverage or pay a fine (76%).
Researchers also explained that public opinion can seem contradictory when it comes to concerns about the national deficit. The study found that roughly two in three Americans feel "very concerned" about the federal budget deficit and want Congress to address the issue, but few can agree on what should be done about it. A majority did say they were in favor of keeping Social Security (64%) and Medicare (56%) — two programs that together account for about a third of all federal spending — as is.
"Budget experts say that the budget deficit cannot be tackled without taking on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid spending, or by raising taxes," said Kaiser President and CEO Drew Altman. "But the American people do not believe this at all. There is a huge gap in basic beliefs and understandings of the problem and what it takes to solve it."
Researchers conducted the survey by interviewing 1,502 adults by phone nationwide who were age 18 and older. The interviews were conducted from Jan. 4- 14 and the House voted to repeal health care reform Jan. 19.
See a complete breakdown of the survey's findings on the Kaiser Foundation’s website.