Poll shows support for Obamacare at all-time low, but subsidies still popular
The latest ABC/Washington Post poll shows support for Obamacare hitting an all-time low. But the same poll shows a majority hoping the Supreme Court does not gut Obamacare subsidies.
Overall, just 39 percent support the law, down 10 percentage points in a little more than a year to match the record low from three years ago as the Supreme Court debated the constitutionality of the individual mandate. A majority, 54 percent, opposes Obamacare, a scant 3 points shy of the high in late 2013 after the botched rollout of healthcare.gov.
In spite of majority opposition overall, however, 55 percent think the Supreme Court should not block federal subsidies that help some low and moderate income Americans pay for their health insurance. Many fewer, 38 percent, would like to see the Court strike down those subsidies.
Seventy-seven percent of the ACA’s supporters want the Court to rule in favor of keeping the subsidies. But even among opponents of the law overall, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that four in 10 favor keeping the subsidy system as it stands.
While that may sound contradictory, it’s in fact consistent with longstanding research about views of the ACA. Ask about it overall, and people respond chiefly on the basis of the individual mandate, which is broadly unpopular. Ask about individual elements – such as extending coverage to low-income Americans who’d otherwise lack it – and support is much higher. The challenge is that one relies on the other.
Antagonism toward the individual mandate is only a small part of the opposition. The lack of choices of insurance plans, deductibles that are too high, premiums increasing, and the lies told about being able to keep one's plan and doctor if consumers were satisfied with them also contribute to an overall negative view of Obamacare by the public.
But subsidies are a goody, and Americans have been trained over the years not to look a gift horse in the mouth. If the government wants to subsidize the insurance of couples who make $88,000 a year, well, that's just fine with them.
There seems little doubt that no matter how the Supreme Court rules on subsidies, they will continue after the decision. Probably a combination of states stepping in and Congress allowing them to continue for some will mean that few consumers will lose the subsidy in the future.