July 29, 2017 / 10:13 PM / 5 months ago

Exclusive: Majority of Americans want Congress to move on from healthcare reform - Reuters/Ipsos poll

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A majority of Americans are ready to move on from healthcare reform at this point after the U.S. Senate’s effort to dismantle Obamacare failed on Friday, according to an exclusive Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Saturday.

Nearly two-thirds of the country wants to either keep or modify the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and a majority of Americans want Congress to turn its attention to other priorities, the survey found.

Republicans have vowed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act since Democratic President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010, and it appeared they finally had their chance when Republican President Donald Trump took office in January. But the law, which helped 20 million people obtain health insurance, has steadily grown more popular.

The July 28-29 poll of more than 1,130 Americans, conducted after the Republican-led effort collapsed in the Senate, found that 64 percent said they wanted to keep Obamacare, either “entirely as is” or after fixing “problem areas.” That is up from 54 percent in January.

The survey found that support for the law still runs along party lines, with nine out of 10 Democrats and just three out of 10 Republicans saying they wanted to keep or modify Obamacare.

Among Republicans, three-fourths said they would like their party’s leaders to try to repeal and replace Obamacare at some point, though most listed other issues that they would give a higher priority right now.

Disappointment among Republicans and happiness among Democrats about the repeal’s failure were palpable. Two-thirds of Republicans felt “bad” that the Senate failed to pass a healthcare bill, while three-fourths of Democrats felt “good,” according to the Reuters/Ipsos poll.

When asked what they think Congress should do next, most Americans picked other priorities such as tax reform, foreign relations and infrastructure. Only 29 percent said they wanted Republicans in Congress to “continue working on a new healthcare bill.”

Gene Anderson, 81, a Trump voter living in a retirement community in Zionsville, Indiana, said the president should “refocus on some stability in his administration and some demonstration of being able to work together with Democrats in Congress.”

“I don’t understand why they had to push for healthcare reform before tax reform,” he said. “They ought to sit down and come up with a viable legislative, doable tax reform.”

Americans appear to be more supportive of some of the main features of Obamacare. For example, 77 percent said they were in favor of expanding Medicaid to low-income families, and 43 percent said they favored requiring U.S. residents to own health insurance. That was up from 66 percent and 36 percent, respectively, when Reuters/Ipsos first asked those questions in April 2012.

The latest Republican effort failed when Senator John McCain split from his party’s leadership and joined Republican colleagues Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowksi and Senate Democrats to vote against a so-called skinny repeal eliminating certain aspects of Obamacare. McCain later said the measure “offered no replacement to actually reform our healthcare system.”

Respondents said they thought a lot of people shared responsibility for the failure on healthcare. When asked who “is most responsible,” 20 percent picked Senate Republicans, 13 percent said Trump, and 11 percent said McCain. The rest picked Senate Democrats and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Senators Collins and Murkowski.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,136 people, including 381 Republicans and 475 Democrats. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of 3 percentage points.

Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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