Poll Finds Americans Oppose Defunding Healthcare Law

By | January 25, 2011

Most Americans do not want Congress to block funding for various new healthcare measures even as the nation remains split on the sweeping overhaul passed last year, a poll published Tuesday found.

More than half of those surveyed — 62 percent — said they did not approve of lawmakers cutting off funds needed to implement changes, which range from new rules for health insurance companies to tax credits for small businesses and state grants.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives this month passed legislation that would repeal the healthcare reform law signed by President Barack Obama last year, but the Senate is not expected to act on that bill. House Republicans say they now will try to disrupt the flow of money needed to implement the law.

Thirty-three percent said they backed funding attacks, according to the poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health.

The results show that even those who may not like the bill overall don’t see targeting funding as the best way forward.

‘The public is frustrated with politics as usual, and may be saying that defunding a law is not how government should work,” Mollyann Brodie, head of Kaiser’s Public Opinion and Survey Research group, said in a statement.

The law, a cornerstone of Obama’s domestic agenda, faces tough challenges in Congress and the courts as both political parties jockey for position ahead of the 2012 presidential agency.

It aims to expand access to health insurance for roughly 30 million currently uninsured Americans while cracking down on unpopular insurance industry practices that have denied people coverage.

Ramifications across the sector have been widespread, affecting Aetna Inc, WellPoint Inc and other health insurers as well as drugmakers, device companies, hospitals and others.

Researchers, who polled about 1,500 U.S. adults in early January, found that overall Americans are divided largely along partisan lines as to what should be done about the law, with most Republicans supporting repealing it and possibly replacing it and Democrats urging to maintain or expand it.

The Republican-led House last week voted to repeal the law but the measure is not likely to be taken up by the Democratically-controlled Senate. Obama has promised to veto it.

Republican leaders are now pushing for medical liability reforms and allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines, among other measures and have vowed ongoing hearings.

While those polled largely backed expanding health coverage among low income Americans through subsidies, the federal-state Medicaid program and employer mandates, they did not support making people to purchase a plan — a rule now facing multiple legal challenges.

Three-quarters of those polled didn’t support the requirement to buy a health insurance plan starting in 2014 or face a fine, although most changed their minds when asked follow up question about insurers who deny coverage to those who have a pre-existing medical condition.

But specific provisions that have already been implemented such as cheaper medicines for Medicare patients and rules forcing insurers to spend a certain amount on medical care were still largely favored, according to the poll, which was conducted Jan. 4-14 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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