Democrats Lean Toward Expanding the ACA Further

The percentage of Democrats with an unfavorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act has increased, because more of them want to expand what the law does.

While the economy tops issues that registered voters want the presidential candidates to talk about, healthcare ranks fourth, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, compared with 2012, when it ranked second behind the economy and jobs. However, there were differences in survey responses about healthcare depending upon whether the voter was a registered Democrat or Republican.

Larger shares of Democratic voters mention healthcare (19%) as a topic they want the presidential candidates to talk about than Republican voters (12%). When asked specifically what healthcare issues voters would most like to hear the presidential candidates discuss, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and healthcare costs top the list, with more than one-third of registered voters mentioning each. The next most mentioned healthcare issue was expanding healthcare coverage for uninsured people (26%) and Medicare (10%).

Forty-five percent of Republican voters mention the ACA as the healthcare issue they want to hear candidates discuss, including 28% who explicitly mention repealing or opposing it. Somewhat more Democratic voters mention expanding coverage for the uninsured (39%) and healthcare costs (37%) than the ACA (30%), and equal shares of Independent voters mention the ACA and healthcare costs (37% each). Thus, in general, Republicans want presidential candidates to discuss the ACA, and Democrats want candidates to discuss access, according to Kaiser.

The public appears to be split on what they want Congress to do going forward with the ACA: 32% support repealing the law and 30% support expanding the law. Fourteen percent would like to see it implemented as is, and 11% want to see it scaled back. About half of Democrats (51%) want the law to be expanded, a significant increase from 36% in December 2015, and continuing an upward trend that began in January 2016.

The percentage of Democrats who have an unfavorable opinion of the law increased 6 percentage points to 25%, up from 19% in March. Of the Democrats who did not have a favorable opinion of the ACA, 40% want to expand what the law does, 20% do not know what they want Congress to do about the ACA, 19% want to repeal the law, 13% want to move forward with implementing the law as it is, and 9% want to scale back what the law does.

The poll was conducted among a nationally representative random-digit-dial telephone sample of 1201 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (420) and cellphone (781). The margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points for the full sample.

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