- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2017

Americans are far more likely to view the House-passed health care bill as a bad idea than a good one, underscoring the political tightrope GOP lawmakers are walking as they try to replace Obamacare, according to a new poll.

Forty-eight percent told NBC News/Wall Street Journal pollsters it’s a bad idea, compared to just 23 percent who see an upside to it.

Pollsters say they never saw that type of gap in measuring the 2010 Affordable Care Act, though President Obama’s signature overhaul suffered a bad spell at the end of 2013, after the HealthCare.gov website crashed, and when 50 percent of Americans viewed the law as a bad idea and 34 percent who said it was a good one.

In February, the pollsters said views of Obamacare titled slightly positive, 43 percent to 41 percent.

House leaders muscled their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare through by a 217-213 margin earlier this month, shifting the debate to the Senate.

As written, the new GOP bill repeals most of Obamacare’s taxes and its mandate requiring Americans to hold insurance, and replaces the 2010 law’s generous subsidies with refundable, age-based tax credits.

The bill includes a total overhaul of Medicaid, changing it from a payment-per-customer system to a block-grant model that will pay states a lump sum, then ask them to experiment with their rolls. That saves nearly $900 billion over the next decade, marking the biggest entitlement reform in history.

And the legislation prohibits abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood from being able to collect money under Medicaid.

Late changes to the House plan would allow states to waiver parts of Obamacare that require insurers to cover a slate of “essential” benefits like maternity and mental health care and charge healthier people less than sick ones, so long as they set up risk pools to subsidize people who have preexisting medical conditions and experienced a lapse in coverage.

Views of the plan vary widely by party affiliation and show a lack of confidence in the legislation among GOP respondents. Only a slight majority — 52 percent — of Republicans think the bill is a good idea, while 77 percent of Democrats believe it’s a bad idea.

Independents aren’t sold on the plan, with 44 percent saying it’s a bad idea and 18 percent saying it’s a good one.

It’s not the only poll to find lagging support for the plan.

Last week, the Quinnipiac University poll said 56 percent of U.S. voters disapproved of the plan while only 21 percent approved, though it was a slight improvement over the 17 percent who backed it in March, before House negotiators tweaked it to win passage.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll last week also had the GOP plan underwater, 38 percent to 44 percent, while 50 percent of respondents approved of Obamacare and 42 percent disapproved.

Also, two thirds of physicians have a negative impression of the GOP plan, versus roughly a quarter who approve of it, according to recent survey by Merritt Hawkins, a health care firm.



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