As the Affordable Care Act approaches its fourth birthday, public opinion remains mixed on health care reform. That’s perhaps unsurprising, considering the fact that the law as a whole consistently polls worse than its individual provisions and consumer protections do. But according to the Pew Research Center, an increasing number of Americans who oppose Obamacare now want their elected officials to figure out how to make the law work, rather than trying to thwart it:
“A majority of ACA opponents — representing 30 percent of the public overall — want politicians to do what they can to make the law work as well as possible, compared with 19 percent of the public that wants elected officials to do what they can to make it fail,” Pew researchers explain. Back in September, when the group asked the same question about the law’s future, Obamacare opponents were more evenly divided on whether they wanted it to work or fail.
What’s changed over the past six months? For one thing, more than five million people have signed up for health care plans since Obamacare’s open enrollment period began in October. Millions more have enrolled in Medicaid plans under the new expansion of the program. The law’s proponents have always argued that Americans’ personal experiences with health reform will likely end up eventually influencing its popularity.
The one sector of the population that hasn’t been swayed is Tea Party Republicans. A full 97 percent of Tea Partiers oppose Obamacare, and 60 percent of them actively want it to fail. Meanwhile, just 25 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans are hoping that elected officials will work against health reform.
Over the past several months, the Tea Party has put that position into action, attempting to sabotage Obamacare with a variety of tactics on the state and federal levels. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his far-right allies forced a government shutdown over the health reform law this past fall. The Koch Brothers have poured record-breaking amounts of money into political ads to convince lawmakers to deny Medicaid expansion from thousands of low-income people, as well as launched campaigns to convince young Americans to simply go unsinsured. Anti-Obamacare lawmakers have also attempted to hamper enrollment efforts, both by preventing uninsured Americans from learning more about the law and by restricting the navigators who are tasked with helping people sign up.
But Pew’s most recent polling adds to a growing body of research that suggests Tea Partiers are out of touch with the general population. A September poll found that just seven percent of Republican voters favored defunding Obamacare at that point. After the GOP shut down the government over Obamacare, polling conducted in October found that the law actually ended up getting more popular after the political stunt.