The gap between favorable and unfavorable opinions of the Affordable Care Act has narrowed to its slimmest margin since before full implementation of the federal healthcare law, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
A plurality of Americans, 43%, continue to disapprove of the law, while 41% support it, a statistically insignificant difference.
Broad support exists for Congress to take action if the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in at least 34 states that haven't set up their own exchanges in the King v. Burwell case, according to the Kaiser survey. A ruling is expected by the end of June.
Roughly two-thirds of respondents indicated that Congress should pass a law to allow subsidies to be accessed in all states if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the Obama administration. However, a majority of Republicans, 56%, don't want the House and Senate to take action to restore financial assistance nationwide.
Fairly broad agreement also exists over whether eliminating subsidies would be harmful to the country. Just over 60% of respondents indicated that invalidating subsidies in non-exchange states would have a negative effect nationwide. In those states potentially affected by the ruling, however, the percentage of respondents expecting the removal of subsidies to have a negative effect was only 46%.
Most Americans remain unaware of the Supreme Court case and the potential ramifications. Just over half of respondents reported that they'd heard "nothing at all" about the lawsuit.
Despite the narrowing of public opinions about the Affordable Care Act, there remains a stark partisan divide. Roughly three-quarters of Republicans view it negatively, while two-thirds of Democrats have a favorable view of the federal healthcare law, according to the Kaiser survey. Among independents, 47% view it unfavorably, compared to 37% with a positive opinion.
However, repealing the Affordable Care Act—as Republicans have repeatedly vowed to do, most recently in latest their budget plans—is only backed by 30% of respondents. A plurality of respondents, 46%, would like to see the law implemented in its current form or expanded.
Most Americans, 57%, report that the law has had no direct impact on their lives. Among those who reported that the law has affected their lives, opinions were roughly split about whether it has helped or hurt them.
The nationwide survey was conducted March 6 to 12. It included 1,503 adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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