It’s been a busy week for health care. Three polls – from CNN, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and then President Trump’s very own America First Policies – came out, all of which had similar and striking conclusions. Four studies – from the Urban Institute, Avalere, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and the Commonwealth Fund – also came out, and too came to a similar conclusion. What did the analyses of the week show?
WHAT THE POLLS FOUND: ACA MORE POPULAR THAN EVER, VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSE ADMINISTRATION POLICIES
Last night, a new poll from President Trump’s own organization, America First Policies, confirmed that health care is the top issue to voters – and they don’t support the Trump Administration’s repeal and sabotage agenda. Trump’s polling found:
- By 17 points, voters DISAPPROVE of Trump’s “handling of health care” with only 38% approving (16% strongly) and 55% disapproving (44% strongly).
- A plurality of voters (41%) said the top priority for the President and Congress should be lowering health care costs.
- Among those 41% who name lowering health care costs a the top priority, 68% want Congress to leave the ACA as is or work to fix it. Only 31% support the GOP repeal agenda.
The America First poll followed the earlier release of the Kaiser February tracking poll, which found 54% of those surveyed holding a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the highest proportion supporting the ACA in the nine years the poll has been conducted. The poll also found:
- The ACA favorable view rose from 50 percent in January 2018 to 54 percent this month, a change “largely driven by independents.”
- More than twice as many voters mention health care costs (22 percent) as mention repealing/opposing the ACA (7 percent) as the top health care issue.
- 74% of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Medicaid, while 52% believed the Medicaid program is working well for most low-income people covered by the program.
- 64% of independents oppose lifetime limits for Medicaid benefits.
- A larger share of the public believes the proposed Medicaid changes are to reduce government spending (41 percent) than to help lift people out of poverty (33 percent).
And both of these followed a Tuesday CNN poll which found health care remains voters’ top priority, with 83% of those surveyed listing it as either extremely or very important. Other findings included:
- 53% of voters said health care was extremely important, the highest among all issues – a 20% increase from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted in August of 2010, when health care supposedly dominated the midterm elections.
- 78% of independent voters said health care was important, which tied with the economy as their top issue.
- At least 70% of voters in every demographic category said health care was important – a trend that stretches across gender, age, income level, education level, ideology, and party affiliation.
Americans support the Affordable Care Act because it works to bring down costs, expand coverage, and protect the most vulnerable among us. They oppose the GOP’s repeal and sabotage plan because it does the opposite. Four studies this week confirmed this.
WHAT THE STUDIES SHOW: COSTS UP, COVERAGE DOWN
Last week, the Trump Administration announced a proposal to move forward with short-term, junk insurance plans – the Administration’s latest form of sabotage.
- On Monday, a bombshell Urban Institute study found that these short-term junk plans will cause an average premium increase of 18 percent in 43 states, making clear just how high the cost of the GOP’s sabotage efforts will be for Americans.
Last month, the Department of Labor proposed a rule promoting association health plans (AHPs).
- On Wednesday, Avalere released a new study which found that this proposed rule would cause premiums for individual and small-group plans to rise 4% and reduce Affordable Care Act plans enrollment by as many as 4.3 million, further destabilizing the marketplace.
On Wednesday, President Trump hosted a White House summit to address the opioid crisis, just weeks after releasing a budget which called for vast cuts to Medicaid.
- That day, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released an analysis showing that states which expanded Medicaid saw higher rates of insurance coverage for people with opioid-use disorders.
And throughout his time in office, President Trump and his GOP allies in Congress have been carrying out an extensive sabotage campaign designed to harm the ACA.
- A new report from the Commonwealth Fund analyzed the effects on consumer confidence, finding that among those worried about maintaining their coverage in the future, “nearly half pointed to actions by the Trump administration and Congress as the main source of their unease.” Moreover, the report found that of the individuals who did not purchase insurance last year, 26 percent of those said they did not because they thought the law was going to be repealed, underscoring the effects this sabotage campaign has had.
- The report did offer some steps to move forward: “As our findings suggest, policy changes could increase coverage, including greater outreach and advertising in all states and reforms to improve plan affordability.” The most specific suggestion: Medicaid expansion “remains the most obvious means for expanding coverage nationwide.”
All in all, Americans continued to make their voices heard loud and clear: they support the Affordable Care Act and want it to be improved and expanded, not undercut by a GOP sabotage effort from President Trump and Republicans in Congress. As for that sabotage effort? Study after study has found that its effects have been nothing short of disastrous for the American health care system. Will President Trump and Congressional Republicans ever get their act together on health care and finally embrace what the vast majority of Americans say they want? Well, there are a few polls they can read…