Nearly two-thirds of adults want Congress to take action to allow all low- and middle-income Americans to access insurance subsidies if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down financial assistance in states that don’t operate their own exchanges, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
In addition, 59% of respondents in states that don’t operate their own exchanges indicated support for their state establishing an insurance marketplace if the Supreme Court invalidates subsidies.
In King v. Burwell, a case scheduled for arguments in March, the justices will decide whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows the Internal Revenue Service to provide premium subsidies in states that haven’t established their own exchanges. A ruling is expected by the end of June. If the plaintiffs prevail, 8.2 million individuals in 34 states would lose access to $28.8 billion in subsidies in 2016, according to an analysis by researchers at the Urban Institute (PDF).
Despite those high stakes, the Kaiser poll found, few Americans are paying attention to the issue. More than half of respondents, 56%, indicated that they know “nothing at all” about the court case.
Kaiser’s monthly tracking poll also found little consensus among Americans about what should happen to the Affordable Care Act. Roughly a third of respondents want to repeal the law entirely, while an additional 14% would like to see it scaled back. Conversely, just over 40% of respondents either want to keep the law as currently written (19%) or expand its scope (23%).
The federal healthcare law remains unpopular, with 46% of respondents viewing it unfavorably, compared with 40% viewing it favorably. Those views have hardened along partisan lines and remained largely unchanged for months.
But respondents also offered a dim view of fixes to the ACA proposed by congressional Republicans. A plan to change the definition of full-time work under the federal healthcare law from 30 hours a week to 40 hours a week, which has already passed the GOP-controlled House, was opposed by 40% of respondents, compared with just over a quarter who favored it.
A majority of respondents held no opinion about whether the law’s medical-device tax should be repealed, another priority of congressional Republicans. Among those expressing an opinion, 30% backed repeal of the 2.3% excise tax, while just 15% favored keeping it in place.
The Kaiser survey was conducted between Jan. 15 and 21 and included 1,503 adults, split between landline and cellphone users. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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