The surprising success of the 2018 Affordable Care Act enrollments in the face of sabotage by the Trump administration was one clue to its staying power. Here's another—it's more popular now than it's ever been in the eight years of monthly polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The poll finds 54 percent of the public now holds a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act, the highest share recorded in more than 80 KFF polls since the law’s enactment in 2010. This reflects a slight increase in favorable views since January (50%), while unfavorable views held steady at 42 percent.
Repeal has been unpopular for a long time, and now pretty much everyone is just ready to move on and start talking about other healthcare issues, like lowering costs. Going into this year's midterm election, healthcare costs are the most important health-related issue for voters, "more than twice as many voters mention healthcare costs (22%) as any other issue, including repealing or opposing the Affordable Care Act (7%)." Even Republicans say bringing health costs down is more important than repealing Obamacare, 22 to 17 percent. The public, even the Republican base, has moved on from repeal.
That also gives healthcare advocates and Democrats another issue in the midterms—the individual mandate repeal Republicans passed in the new tax scam law will hike premiums by about 20 percent. While most Obamacare customers will be shielded from those premium hikes because they qualify for subsidies, the headlines leading up to the next open enrollment this fall will all be about double-digit premium hikes.
Here's something else that Republicans are making themselves vulnerable on: Medicaid. Nearly three-quarters of voters, 74 percent, have a favorable view of Medicaid, and 40 percent say their view is "very favorable." That's largely because so many people—70 percent in this survey—have had direct experience with the program "either directly through their own health insurance coverage (32%) or their child being covered (9%), or indirectly through a friend or other family member (29%)."
In the 18 states that haven't expanded Medicaid, 56 percent of all residents, and nearly 40 percent of Republicans, support expansion. The messing around with Medicaid Republicans are undertaking is less understood by the public, but a plurality of 41 percent get it. They say that the intent behind imposing work requirements is to kick people off of the program and save money while a third, 33 percent, parrot the "lift people out of poverty" excuse. And the idea of imposing lifetime limits on is very unpopular, with 66 percent of all respondents saying people should be able to get Medicaid for as long as they need it.
All this means everything Trump and Republicans at every level are doing in health care is on the wrong side of public opinion. Health care remains at the top of the priority lists of issues for voters. Democrats need to keep it there.