- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 8, 2016

Americans are more likely to say Obamacare is a burden than a net benefit, according to a new poll that finds nearly three in 10 people think the health overhaul has hurt them and their family.

Gallup says 29 percent of Americans feel the Affordable Care Act has been harmful, up from 26 percent in May and an all-time high for the polling company.

Meanwhile, the share of people who say Obamacare helped them dropped from 22 percent to 18 percent.

More than half — 51 percent — still say the law had no effect on them, though it is a far cry from the 70 percent who felt that way in 2012, before the law’s main provisions took effect.

More than a third of Americans say the law will harm them in the long run, versus just under a quarter who think it will be a personal boon, according to Gallup.

The findings come at a pivotal time for President Obama’s signature law.

His administration is promoting the law’s taxpayer-subsidized marketplace before 2017 signups begin on Nov. 1, yet the exchanges have been dogged by reports of double-digit premium hikes and the exodus of major insurers who say their customer base has been costlier than expected.

“Obamacare has worked as well as piling two tons of fertilizer on a one-ton truck — any farmer will tell you, that doesn’t work well for long,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, said Thursday.

Senate Minority Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, urged the GOP to look on the bright side, citing a new report that finds the uninsured rate stands at less than 9 percent, an all-time low.

“I thought Republicans believed in the free enterprise system,” he said. “That’s what we have with Obamacare. [The] health insurance marketplace is so, so much better than the pre-Affordable Care Act.”

Indeed, Republicans were much more likely to say Obamacare has hurt them, at 46 percent, than Democrats, at 9 percent, so “it is possible that some of those who say ‘hurt’ are giving a political response rather than an actual report on the law’s effect on their lives,” the pollsters said.

Overall, just over half of Americans, at 51 percent, disapprove of the law, while its approval rating has slid from 47 percent to 44 percent since the spring.

“This law has left too many hard-working Americans with no choice and practically no coverage,” Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said. “There is a reason 51 percent of them don’t like it.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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