Republicans are finding their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is running into obstacles both expected and unexpected.
One is public opinion. The GOP’s original timeline for completing healthcare reform was the end of March, but procedural hurdles and policy disagreements have delayed the efforts.
Angry constituents have filled town halls held by Republican lawmakers. And a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank, shows just how difficult is has become for Republicans to try to pass a healthcare overhaul.
Overall, support for the American Health Care Act is low, with just 31% of those surveyed holding a favourable view of the bill and 55% of respondents viewing it unfavorably. On the other hand, 49% of those surveyed had a favourable view of Obamacare, compared with 42% holding an unfavorable view.
Individual elements of the AHCA have even less support.
For instance, 60% of people were less likely to support the AHCA due to a provision that allows states to apply for a wavier to repeal a key Obamacare protection that obligates insurers to cover a baseline of medical care, such as maternity care, mental healthcare, and emergency-room visits. The addition of that provision was crucial in winning over support from more conservative members of the House to get the bill passed in that chamber.
And 58% of those surveyed said they were less likely to support the bill due to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that costs would increase for older people and decrease for younger Americans.
Given the apparent distaste for aspects of the AHCA, it perhaps comes as no surprise that many Americans want significant changes to be made to the House version of the bill. Republicans in the Senate have made it clear they plan to write their own version and not use the House’s version.
According to the Kaiser poll, 29% of respondents said they didn’t want the House version to become law at all. Meanwhile, 26% want the Senate to make major changes to it, and 24% want at least minor changes. Only 8% of those polled said the bill should be passed as is.
The road ahead on healthcare reform looks increasingly tenuous for Republicans.
The Senate GOP must forge a compromise bill that will not only make it out of the upper chamber, but gain enough support among the more conservative elements of the House to pass there. Additionally, procedural rules in the Senate prevent major overhauls to Obamacare, as GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst acknowledged Tuesday.
Navigating all of those elements on healthcare comes as Congress faces a busy schedule this summer, with the debt ceiling, government shutdown, and funding for key programs all looming as agenda items over the next few months.
The latest survey comes after a slew of polls showing declining support for the AHCA. No major polls have showed more approval for the law than disapproval, according to a spreadsheet compiled by HuffPost polling director Ariel Edwards-Levy.
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