Most Americans want the Supreme Court to side with the government when it decides whether the feds can continue subsidizing insurance premiums in all 50 states under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, according to polls in recent months. Few, however, have much confidence that the court can rule objectively in the case, King v. Burwell.
Five things to know about public opinion on the Supreme Court's coming decision on the healthcare law:
Most want law upheld
Most Americans (56%) would prefer that the court rule in favor of the Obama administration, allowing the government to continue subsidizing premiums in all states, according to an April Associated Press-GfK poll. On the other side, 39% would prefer that the court rule for the plaintiffs who brought the case, who say that the literal wording of the law limits the government to subsidizing premiums in states that have set up their own health insurance exchanges, rather than relying on the federal government exchange.
Nearly three-quarters of Democrats and a slim majority of independents want the court to rule in favor of the government, while a majority of Republicans want the court to limit insurance subsidies under the law to states with their own exchanges.
Among people who oppose the healthcare law generally, 58% want the court to limit the government to subsidizing premiums only in states with exchanges. But a significant minority of the law's opponents (39%) think the court should rule that the government can continue to subsidize premiums in all states.
Little confidence in court's objectivity
Nearly half of Americans are not too confident or not confident at all that the Supreme Court can rule objectively in the case, according to the April AP-GfK poll. Just 1 in 10 are very or extremely confident, while another 4 in 10 are moderately confident.
Six in 10 opponents of the law, compared with 44% of the law's supporters, are not confident in the court's ability to rule objectively.
A CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday found that three-quarters of Americans think that the justices sometimes let their personal or political views influence their decisions rather than deciding solely based on their legal analysis.
Few closely following case
In the April AP-GfK poll, just 13% of Americans said they were following news about the healthcare case extremely or very closely, while 60% said they were not following the case closely.
Likewise, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in June found that 44% of Americans had heard nothing at all about the case, and 28% had heard only a little.
That's true even though the vast majority of Americans, 78%, called healthcare a very or extremely important issue in the AP-GfK poll.
Most want Congress action
If the court rules against the government, 51% of Americans in the April AP-GfK poll said they would like Congress to update the law to allow the federal government to subsidize premiums in all states. The poll found 44% would prefer that Congress leave the law as is, letting states decide if they want to create exchanges that would allow people to receive subsidized premiums.
Three-quarters of the law's supporters, and more than one-third of opponents, think Congress should fix the gap in the law if the court stops subsidies in non-exchange states.
The Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in June also found most said Congress should pass a law so that people in all 50 states can be eligible for financial help. And 55% of Americans living in states without their own exchanges said they would want their state to create one if necessary.
Continued divide over health law
In general, the April AP-GfK poll found that 27% of Americans support and 38% oppose the 2010 healthcare law, while 34% are neither in favor nor opposed.
But there is a significant partisan divide over the law, with 52% of Democrats supporting the law, but only 11% of independents and just 5% of Republicans saying the same.
The poll found 44% of Americans approved and 55% disapproved of the way Obama is handling healthcare. But more Americans trust the Democratic Party than the Republican Party on handling the issue, 34% to 24%.
The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.