WASHINGTON – American attitudes toward changes in health care laws are “all over the map,” a Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health survey reported Tuesday.
While 28 percent want the 2010 health insurance law expanded, 19 percent said leave it alone, 23 percent backed repealing it and replacing with Republican ideas and 20 percent said repeal it, but don’t replace it.
Views fell largely along partisan lines, with 77 percent of Republicans supporting some sort of repeal, while 51 percent of Democrats said they wanted the law expanded.
The findings are similar to those of a Jan. 6-10 McClatchy-Marist poll, which found that 49 percent of Americans favored keeping the law the same or expanding it, while 43 percent favored repealing it or reducing its reach.
In the Kaiser survey, people were eager for Congress to keep working on health care.
“The fact that the public is largely split on what should happen next with regards to the health reform law does not mean that they want Congress to stop working on health care,” the survey found.
In fact, health care topped all issues people wanted Congress and President Barack Obama to address this year, at 46 percent. The economy and jobs were second at 40 percent, according to the poll.
Of those who mentioned health care as one of the country’s top two issues, 30 percent were Republicans, 29 percent Democrats and 36 percent independents.
The study coincides with a renewed effort by congressional Republicans to challenge the 2010 health care law. That Democratic-authored law requires most people to get insurance coverage by 2014 and requires most employers to offer it.
The House of Representatives voted last week to repeal the act, but that effort is likely to die in the Democratic-run Senate.
Instead, GOP lawmakers are expected to try to build alliances with like-minded Democrats to change parts of the law.
The Kaiser poll suggested that while that bid will be difficult, it’s not impossible. In all, 1,502 people were surveyed Jan. 4-14 on land-line and cell phones. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
As has been the case in poll after poll, people like certain parts of the law.
Some 85 percent liked the discount on brand-name prescription drugs for certain Medicare recipients, while 79 percent backed subsidies for low- and middle-income people to buy coverage. The law’s voluntary long-term care insurance program and expanding Medicaid, the joint state-federal health care program for lower-income people, got the support of more than two-thirds.
There’s strong opposition to a favorite Republican tactic: not providing funds to implement the legislation. Sixty-two percent disapproved of that strategy.
However, Republicans have strong support for one of their major targets: Only 23 percent back the mandate that most people must buy coverage by 2014.
When respondents were asked about state lawsuits challenging the mandate, which are moving through the courts, the poll found that “Americans have mixed views as to their (the states’) motivation.”
Some 32 percent said the state leaders behind the suits thought that the law violated the Constitution, but the same percentage thought the leaders were trying to gain a political advantage. Twenty-two percent said the motivation was neither the law nor politics; instead, they think that the leaders think the policy is bad for the nation.