Poll: Americans skeptical about plan to replace Obamacare

Americans are deeply skeptical about the current House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, and few think it will bring down costs or expand coverage, a new nationwide survey finds.

In fact, nearly half the country thinks the GOP plan will increase the number of uninsured and raise prices for consumers who have to buy coverage on their own, according to the poll from the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

"What people really want out of their health care system is lower costs," said Mollyann Brodie, who oversees polling for the foundation. "This is a warning sign that the public's early impression of this is that it is more likely to raise costs."

The poll — which follows release of the Republican legislation last week — may signal more challenges for the GOP, which is struggling to develop a replacement for the 2010 health care law, often called Obamacare.

This week, an independent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office estimated the GOP legislation would double the number of Americans without health coverage over the next decade, increasing the ranks of the uninsured by 24 million.

At the same time, the budget office calculated health insurance would become increasingly difficult for lower-income and older Americans to afford.

The CBO report has further complicated Republican efforts to quickly pass the House legislation and send a bill to President Donald Trump, which GOP leaders had said they wanted to do by next month.

Over the next decade, the House Republican plan would roll back nearly a $1 trillion in federal aid to states to provide health coverage to poor people through Medicaid.

The legislation would also loosen regulation of health insurers and restructure a system of insurance subsidies in the current law that help low- and moderate-income Americans who don't get health benefits through an employer.

The House legislation has drawn strong criticism from major physician and hospital groups, and leading organizations representing patients, who warn that it would undermine key protections, particularly for sick Americans.

Republican leaders argue their bill would strip away unnecessary mandates and regulations, and make insurance more affordable to consumers.

"They're going to be able to buy a coverage policy that they want for themselves and for their family," Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told reporters outside the White House on Monday.

The new Kaiser poll suggests few Americans share such a rosy view.

Just 23 percent of those surveyed said they believe the House bill would "decrease costs for people who buy their own insurance."

And though Republican respondents were most sanguine about the legislation, only 46 percent said they believe the House bill would reduce costs. By comparison, 47 percent said the bill would either raise costs or not change them.

Americans had a similarly dim view about what the Republican plan would mean for consumers' deductibles, which are already a major barrier for many patients.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they believe the GOP legislation would lead to insurance plans with higher deductibles, compared with just 25 percent who said it would lead to lower deductibles.

GOP politicians have hammered the current law for making consumers buy health plans with what critics say are unaffordable deductibles. But the CBO analysis of the House plan predicts that deductibles will probably be even higher under the Republican bill.

One highly unpopular part of the GOP bill is a provision to cut federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, a longtime goal of conservative Republicans.

Three in four Americans believe that funding should continue, the Kaiser poll found. (Federal law currently bans federal funding for abortion services, but does reimburse Planned Parenthood for numerous other medical services, including providing family planning).

Even a majority of Republican men — 55 percent — believe Planned Parenthood should continue to receive federal Medicaid payments, the survey shows.

Overall, the current health care law remains a deeply partisan issue, with a large majority of Republicans viewing it unfavorably and a large majority of Democrats viewing it favorably.

But overall support for the law remains at its highest level in years in the Kaiser survey, mirroring the findings of many polls since Republicans began their repeal push.

Forty-nine percent of Americans held a favorable view of the law in the latest poll, compared with 44 percent who have an unfavorable view.

The poll was conducted March 6-12 among a nationally representative random sample of 1,206 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample.

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