May 16, 2016
Majority in U.S. Support Idea of Fed-Funded Healthcare System
By Frank Newport
Presented with three separate scenarios for the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 58% of U.S. adults favor the idea of replacing the law with a federally funded healthcare system that provides insurance for all Americans. At the same time, Americans are split on the idea of maintaining the ACA as it is, with 48% in favor and 49% opposed. The slight majority, 51%, favor repealing the act.
The results show that many Americans are OK with several ways of handling the ACA rather than favoring only one possibility. In particular, 35% of all Americans say they would favor keeping the ACA in place and separately say they favor the idea of replacing it with a federally funded universal health insurance system. Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 59% favor both of these approaches. In short, many Americans would apparently go along with Clinton's idea of keeping the ACA in place as it is now, or with Sanders' bolder proposal to replace it with a Medicare-for-All system.
Gallup also asked those who favor either keeping the ACA in place or replacing it with a federally funded system to choose between these two options. The federally funded system wins among this group by a 2-to-1 ratio, 64% to 32%, meaning this system garners the most support among the initial favor/oppose questions and wins when those who like both approaches are forced to choose.
Additionally, 27% of Americans say they favor repealing the ACA and say they favor replacing it with a federally funded system. This means the group of Americans in this survey who favor the law's repeal, a core policy proposal of many Republican presidential candidates during this campaign season, includes some who apparently want the ACA repealed to replace it with an even more liberal system. Only 22% of Americans say they want the ACA repealed and do not favor replacing it with a federally funded system.
The breakdown of reactions to these proposals by partisanship shows the expected patterns: Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are highly likely to favor the two options put forth by the Democratic candidates, while Republicans and Republican leaners are highly likely to favor Trump's position, repeal of the ACA.
One notable exception to the strong partisan skew in reactions to these proposals comes from Republicans when they are asked about replacing the ACA with a federally funded system. Forty-one percent of Republicans favor the proposal -- much higher than the 16% who favor keeping the ACA in place. This may reflect either that Republicans genuinely think a single-payer system would be good for the country, or that they view any proposal to replace the ACA (" Obamacare") as better than keeping it in place.
Americans express considerable support for the idea of replacing the ACA with a federally run national healthcare system, which is similar to the proposal championed by presidential candidate Sanders. To be sure, many Americans, primarily Democrats, also favor the idea of just keeping the ACA in place. But given a choice, those who favor both proposals come down on the side of the Sanders-type proposal. Four in 10 Republicans also favor the idea of a federally funded system.
Comment by Don McCanne
Although this new Gallup poll has been widely interpreted in the media as showing strong national support for single payer reform, the actual question was about favoring or opposing "Replacing the ACA with a federally funded healthcare program providing insurance for all Americans," and it was asked with two other options (repealing ACA, keeping ACA in place), any or all of which could be chosen. Replacing ACA with federally funded health care was supported by 58%, repeal ACA by 51%, and keeping ACA by 48%.
Perhaps one of the more important findings in this poll was that 27% of Americans favor both repealing ACA and replacing it with a federally funded system. Since 45% of all Americans support repeal of ACA, this means that over half of those favoring repeal want it replaced with a federally funded system. That gives a new slant to the repeal and replace clarion call of the Republicans.
In fact, 41% of Republicans favor replacing ACA with a federally funded system whereas only 16% of them prefer to keep ACA in place.
Based on this poll, it is no wonder that the May 16 headline in The Washington Post read, "Poll: Most Americans want to replace Obamacare with single-payer — including many Republicans."
When those who favor either keeping the ACA in place or replacing it with a federally funded system were asked to choose between the two, 32% favored keeping ACA and 64% favored replacing it with a federally funded system.
This should reinvigorate those of us who are working so hard to bring to America the health care system that we need and want - a single payer improved Medicare for all.