Six out of 10 Americans back the healthcare vision of either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, the two Democratic presidential candidates, according to a new tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, Clinton's strategy of building on the Affordable Care Act carries the most support.
A national telephone poll, which covered 1,200 voting-age adults, found that 36% of people believe Congress should build upon President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law “to improve affordability and access to care.” Another 24% said the U.S. should instead establish a single-payer system, which has been the cornerstone of the Sanders campaign trail.
The survey included a pretty even representation of Democrats, Republicans and independents.
Specifically among Democrats, 54% favored building on the ACA versus 33% who want a single-payer, government-run system. Even among independents, 62% preferred the ACA or single-payer, according to the poll.
Conversely, the ACA and single-payer have been anathema to Republicans. Approximately 16% of all respondents thought the ACA should be repealed and not replaced at all, while 13% believed the law should be repealed and swapped with a Republican alternative. However, the Republican-led Congress has yet to fully outline an ACA replacement, although some conservative healthcare observers have proposed their own health policy agenda.
Healthcare has divided liberal voters so far this election season. Clinton has touted the ACA, including the provision that prevents insurers from denying care to people who have pre-existing conditions. The KFF poll indicates a plurality of voters side with Clinton's desire to make incremental reforms, which include capping prescription drug costs and allowing states to create their own public plan options.
But Sanders has fought for single payer throughout his congressional career and made it a staple of his campaign. He has argued that a Medicare-for-all system would reduce costs and provide more equitable care.
When asked what would happen if a single-payer plan were put into place, more than 60% of respondents thought their healthcare costs, quality, availability of treatments, and choice of hospitals and doctors would be better or at least stay the same, according to the poll.