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Health Care

Obamacare's Disastrous Debut Hasn't Changed Americans' Feelings About the Law


Cathey Park of Cambridge, center, watches President Obama speak at Faneuil Hall to bolster support for his national health care law in Boston on Oct. 30

Photograph by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Cathey Park of Cambridge, center, watches President Obama speak at Faneuil Hall to bolster support for his national health care law in Boston on Oct. 30

You’d think the bungled debut of healthcare.gov—turns out only six people managed to enroll in health plans on the first day—would sour Americans’ opinion of health reform. Not so much, according to the latest poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The chunk of Americans who didn’t like the Affordable Care Act before the launch still don’t; no surprise there. That number has consistently been a bit above 40 percent since early 2011. The slightly smaller share of people who support the law also didn’t budge, coming in around 38 percent, consistent with the past two years. Both numbers are statistically unchanged since last month, given the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The opinions split predictably along political party lines, with most Democrats supporting and most Republicans opposing. It’s likely that some of those who view the law unfavorably are liberals who think it doesn’t go far enough: 40 percent of Democrats want the law expanded.

Kaiser researchers randomly called 1,513 Americans from Oct. 17-23, on the heels of the 16-day government shutdown. The polling period ended before the news that dominated headlines this week: that insurance companies are canceling individual health plans that don’t meet the law’s new standards.

The White House evidently got a pass for October’s ugly rollout from supporters who still like Obamacare. But healthcare.gov is still crippled a month after opening. If the problems aren’t fixed soon, the administration may find the law’s supporters running out of patience. Nearly half of all respondents said the federal government is doing a “poor” job of implementing the law.

John_tozzi
Tozzi is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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