- The Washington Times - Monday, November 27, 2017

Half of Americans approve of Obamacare, the Gallup polling company said Monday, meaning support has ebbed from earlier in the year, as Republicans plotted the program’s demise.

Support for the Affordable Care Act reached a record high of 55 percent in April and dipped to 53 percent in July, before GOP defections and blanket Democratic opposition doomed President Trump’s bid to repeal and replace the law.

Gallup said despite the decline, support for the law is higher than any of its pre-2017 reports, reflecting the law’s newfound popularity since Republicans took control of Congress and the White House and vowed to replace it with a market-oriented plan.

As it stands, 50 percent of Americans approve of the law and 42 percent of Americans disapprove.

One year ago, after Mr. Trump campaigned and won on a platform against Obamacare, 42 percent approved and 53 percent disapproved.

Gallup said positions started to shift last spring, when House Republicans struggled to settle on a replacement. Though they passed a bill in May, the effort stalled out in the Senate.

Like other pollsters, Gallup found that opinions around the law are largely dictated by party affiliation. Though nearly nine in 10 Republicans still oppose the law, more Democrats and independent now approve of it than last year, driving the change.

Shifting public opinion hasn’t dissuaded Mr. Trump from slamming the law as fatally flawed or “dead,” even as 2018 signups are underway.

He said Republicans will try to repeal and replace Obamacare with state block grants next spring, after they finish work on tax reform.

“ObamaCare is OWNED by the Democrats, and it is a disaster. But do not worry. Even though the Dems want to Obstruct, we will Repeal & Replace right after Tax Cuts!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, he’s taken executive actions to chip away at the law. He canceled “cost-sharing” payments to insurers, noting they weren’t approved by Congress, and directed agencies to explore ways to sell skimpier “association plans” across state lines to qualified enrollees.

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

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