- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2017

More than a third of Americans still don’t realize that the “Affordable Care Act” and “Obamacare” are the same exact thing, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Morning Consult found that 35 percent of people either thought the twin monikers for the health overhaul referred to separate policies (17 percent) or weren’t sure (18 percent) if they described the same thing or not.

Broken down by age, the confusion was greatest among those 18 to 29 years old — a relatively healthy age group that’s critical to making the economics of Obamacare’s web-based insurance exchanges work.

Those who make less than $50,000, and would be more likely than wealthier respondents to benefit from the law’s taxpayer-subsidized coverage options, were the least likely to realize the two labels referred to the same thing.

What to call the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 has been a source of debate for years. Its vocal opponents dubbed it “Obamacare” as pejorative during the debate around its passage, though it slipped into mainstream usage.

Democratic supporters of the law tend to use the fuller name or call it “the ACA” for shorthand.

Persistent confusion around the law is taking on new meaning this year, as Republicans who control all the levers of political power attempt to fulfill their campaign vow to repeal and replace the overhaul with a program that uses market forces to entice people into plans, rather than relying on heavy federal mandates.

GOP lawmakers and President Trump are falling behind schedule, however, as they try to preserve some of the more popular aspects of Obamacare, such as requiring insurers to cover people with preexisting medical conditions.

“If many people think repealing Obamacare would not affect the popular provisions of the A.C.A., they might not understand the potential consequences of the proposals being considered in Washington,” wrote Kyle Dropp, co-founder and chief research officer at Morning Consult, and Brendan Nyhan, a government professor at Dartmouth College, in a poll analysis for The New York Times.

For instance, they noted, only 61 percent of those polled knew that many people would lose Medicaid coverage or subsidies that help them buy private coverage if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement.

About one in six, or 16 percent, said those people “coverage through Medicaid and subsidies that help people buy private health insurance would not be affected.”

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

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