- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2014

A closely watched health poll released Friday says more than half the public — 53 percent — has an unfavorable view of Obamacare, up eight percentage points from a comparable poll in July.

The Kaiser Health tracking poll for July said only 37 percent viewed the law favorably.

Despite the poor numbers, six in 10 Americans think their member of Congress should work to improve the Affordable Care Act instead of trying to repeal it or replace it with other legislation (35 percent).

Even a third of Republicans would like to see the law improved, rather than repealed and replaced, Kaiser said.

Although Democratic majorities in Congress passed the health care law four years ago, many Americans still don’t understand the basic pillars of the overhaul.

Fewer than four in 10 realized that enrollees in the Obamacare exchanges can choose among private health plans, and a quarter incorrectly thought enrollees were placed in a single government plan.

Another four in 10 were not sure how to answer the question about coverage options.

Republicans were less likely (34 percent) than Democrats (43 percent) to say enrollees had a choice among private health plans.

Respondents told Kaiser that Congress should be focusing on other issues than health care, such as veterans’ medical care (71 percent), the economy and jobs (70 percent) and the federal deficit (68 percent).

In terms of what Congress is spending too much time on, health care topped Kaiser’s poll at 29 percent, followed by women’s health (28 percent) and the situation in Iraq (26 percent).

The public is split over the Supreme Court’s recent “Hobby Lobby” decision, which held that corporations do not have to insure forms of birth control they object to on moral grounds, even though an Obamacare rule required them to as part of company health plans.

Kaiser says 47 percent of people approve of the decision and 49 percent disapprove.

The intensity of feelings are split, too, with 12 percent saying they feel “angry” about the decision and 11 percent saying they feel “enthusiastic.”

There also is a small gender gap in how people view the rulings, with 53 percent of women disapproving of the decision, while 50 percent of men approve and 46 percent disapprove.

The “contraception mandate” at issue before the court dealt with 20 FDA-approved contraceptives used by women. The closely held corporations before the Supreme Court only objected to four forms of birth control that they equate with abortion, while some plaintiffs in lower courts around the country objected to all forms.

Seventy-one percent of Republicans say they approve of the Hobby Lobby decision, while 70 percent of Democrats say they disapprove.

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