Support for U.S. healthcare law edges up despite website woes

WASHINGTON Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:08am EDT

The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ''Obamacare'', outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

The federal government forms for applying for health coverage are seen at a rally held by supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as ''Obamacare'', outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi October 4, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans appear to be somewhat warmer to President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, despite the troubled roll out of the government website that is essential for its success, a poll released on Wednesday found.

The Gallup survey showed people "are slightly more positive now" that they were shortly before the launch of healthcare.gov, which aims to allow consumers to enroll and shop on their own for a health insurance plan.

Still, 45 percent of those polled in mid-October said they generally approve of the law compared to 50 percent who said they disapprove, Gallup said. In August, 41 percent backed the health reform plan while 49 percent did not. The healthcare plan continues to polarize Republicans and Democrats.

The nationwide polling firm surveyed more than 1,500 adults between October 18 to October 20, amid the technical problems that have plagued the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplace website, which launched Oct 1.

"This suggests that the poor performance of the health exchange sites may not at this point be negatively affecting Americans' views of the ACA overall," Gallup researchers said of the survey, which questioned people just days after the partial government shutdown ended.

Gallup's poll also showed a gap in support between younger Americans, whose enrollment is seen as critical to the law's success, and those who are older and qualify for health insurance through the federal government's Medicare program.

More than half of 18- to 29-year olds - or 51 percent - backed the health reforms compared to 38 percent of those 65 and older, according to the poll, which has a margin-of-error rate of plus-or minus 3 percentage points.

The findings come as the Obama Administration scrambles to fix the website, promising a "tech surge" with a team of government and industry experts to fix the problem and offering other options such as telephone enrollment.

Republicans in Congress have also begun their own investigations of the website's problems. Conservatives have long opposed the law, also known as "Obamacare," and made its defunding the focus of their political strategy, which led to the federal government shutdown earlier this month.

"The law remains one of the most polarizing issues Gallup has measured, with more than eight in 10 Democrats approving, while more than eight in 10 Republicans disapprove," the polling firm said.

Later on Wednesday, health insurance industry executives will meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and White House officials, the White House said.

The Obama administration has also scheduled a briefing with Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, some of whom have expressed concern with the program's troubles.

Gallup's poll showed the number of Democrats who embrace the measure has grown. In August, 71 percent of those who identified as Democrats said they favored the law compared to 83 percent in October. Slightly more political independents also said they backed it, while Republican numbers were largely unchanged.

Despite the increase in support for the health law, Gallup said its other research shows a majority of Americans still want lawmakers to modify it "in some way - repealing it entirely, scaling it back, or expanding it."

Overall, most polls have shown that a narrow majority of Americans oppose the healthcare law. A Reuters/Ipsos online poll on Tuesday showed 54 percent of people opposed the law while 46 percent favored it.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; editing by Jackie Frank)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (5)
obamabot2000 wrote:
Who is warming up to this disaster?! It’s actually the exact opposite! The President embarrassed himself considerably, still not giving full credence to the enormity of this situation, by shilling out the 1-800 number over and over like a used car salesman. Worse yet, the people at the 1-800 number can’t help you either!

Reuters has become nothing more than a propaganda machine for this administration, unfortunately for them, this disastrous rollout is tangible and affects the American people directly. Even the most liberal of liberals can’t be swayed by spin this time.

Oct 23, 2013 10:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AlkalineState wrote:
Helped my sister sign up yesterday. Took 19 minutes. Not really the end of the world. Google Chrome, Incognito Mode.

Oct 23, 2013 12:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
cbj wrote:
“…45 percent of those polled said they generally approve of the law compared to 50 percent who said they disapprove, Gallup said.

The healthcare plan continues to polarize Republicans and Democrats.

51 percent of 18- to 29-year olds backed the health reforms compared to 38 percent of those 65 and older

“The law remains one of the most polarizing issues Gallup has measured, with more than eight in 10 Democrats approving, while more than eight in 10 Republicans disapprove,” the polling firm said.

Gallup said its other research shows a majority of Americans still want lawmakers to modify it “in some way – repealing it entirely, scaling it back, or expanding it.

A Reuters/Ipsos online poll on Tuesday showed 54 percent of people opposed the law while 46 percent favored it.”

Looking at the distilled information above, a few things are clear (and obviously so)
This is a divisive topic.
It breaks down along party lines.
Logic does not play as large of a role as emotion.
Not many are really happy with it as it sits (regardless of party).
It will be used by either side as a political linchpin in future talks.
Both sides are invested in it, one for its demise and the other for its expansion.
It will not end here.
Not many people really understand what it does and how much it covers and what it does NOT cover and its impact on the working poor.

I suggest that everyone go to the KFF subsidy calculator and see what it costs for various income levels (not just your own) in order to at least have an INFORMED discussion, otherwise you are just going to be spouting party policy and ideology.
http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

I’d also suggest that you go to the HealthCare.gov site
https://www.healthcare.gov/
and click on the ‘see plans and prices in your area now’ tab. I suspect that many of you already have insurance and have not done any of this but are still willing to talk about it as if you have some knowledge.
I have my own opinion of who will say what and how ill-informed they are and what understanding they have of how people actually live at various income levels.

Go ahead, prove me wrong.

Oct 23, 2013 12:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.