A new poll finds that three-fifths of likely voters support the repeal of Obamacare. A large plurality — 44 percent — wants to see Obamacare repealed and replaced with a conservative alternative. A much smaller group —16 percent — wants to see it repealed but not replaced. Less than one in three respondents — 32 percent — would like to keep Obamacare, whether in its current form or in amended form. So, with a conservative alternative in play, 60 percent of Americans support repeal, while only 32 percent oppose it.
McLaughlin & Associates asked 1,000 likely voters:
“Which comes closest to your view of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare?
“1. It should remain the law of the land, either in its current form or in amended form.
“2. It should be repealed and replaced with a conservative alternative that aims to lower health costs and help people get insurance.
“3. It should be repealed but not replaced with an alternative.”
Repeal and replace was chosen by a plurality of every age group, every income group aside from those making over $150,000, and both sexes. Among independents, 62 percent said they support repeal, with 46 percent backing a conservative alternative. Only 31 percent of independents support keeping Obamacare in its current form or in amended form. Among those who make between $20,000 and $100,000, 63 percent support repeal, with 48 percent backing a conservative alternative. Only 30 percent of such voters want to try to salvage Obamacare.
The poll included 38 percent Democrats and 32 percent Republicans.
These results are consistent with straight up-or-down polling on Obamacare during President Obama’s second term. Over that 20-month span, according to Real Clear Politics, 147 polls have been conducted on Obamacare. All 147 have found that Americans oppose it, giving Obamacare a second-term record of 0-and-147 — far worse than the 40-120 record of the hapless 1962 New York Mets.
Meanwhile, some Republican consultants and commentators, armed with polls that either don’t ask about an Obamacare alternative or else are conducted by the left-leaning, pro-Obamacare Kaiser Family Foundation, are trying to convince GOP candidates to talk about “repairing” Obamacare — the obvious Democratic message — rather than about repealing and replacing it. Such messaging is bad enough politically. In terms of looking out for the future of the country, it’s horrendous.
Obamacare is like a house that’s built on a poor foundation by the world’s worst architect, with cost-overruns and maintenance expenses that make each year’s tab higher than the last. When confronted with such a monstrosity, one doesn’t change the placement of a closet or tweak the color scheme in the kitchen. One calls for a bulldozer and hires a different architect to build a better house on a strong foundation at a lower price. Such is how it is with Obamacare.
Some on the left might argue that it’s irrelevant how many people would prefer to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a conservative alternative, since no such alternative has yet appeared. In reality, however, conservative alternatives have not only appeared but are gaining steam.
The 2017 Project’s “Winning Alternative to Obamacare,” for example, was recently scored by the nonpartisan and politically neutral Center for Health and Economy (H&E), which found that it would save $1.13 trillion in federal spending versus Obamacare (from 2014 through 2023), would lower premiums for all classes of plans (for both individuals and families), would enhance access to desired doctors and hospitals by 57 percent in the individual market (while also increasing access in the employer-based market), and would increase the number of people with private insurance by 6 million. Overall, H&E found, Obamacare would cover 6 million more people than the 2017 Project’s Alternative, because Obamacare would put 12 million more people on Medicaid.
In response to this scoring, McLaughlin & Associates asked:
“Would you support or oppose repealing and replacing Obamacare with a conservative alternative that would save $1 trillion, reduce premiums, enhance access to doctors, and increase the number of people with private insurance by 6 million, but would cover 6 million fewer people overall because fewer people would be on Medicaid?”
Among likely voters, 59 percent said that they’d support repealing and replacing Obamacare with such an alternative, while only 26 percent said they’d oppose doing so. Even Democrats said that they’d support repealing Obamacare and replacing it with such a conservative alternative, by the tally of 49 to 37 percent.
Still, some center-right consultants and commentators worry — with some validity — about disrupting current arrangements. But under the 2017 Project’s Alternative, the typical person with employer-based insurance wouldn’t have their insurance disrupted one bit. As for those who get dumped into Medicaid under Obamacare, they would get the same tax credit under the Alternative as everyone else who purchases insurance on their own. The federal government’s own numbers, published on the eve of Obamacare’s implementation, indicate that such tax credits, supplemented with no more than $15 a month of one’s own money, would enable people to afford insurance in 45 states. (The five remaining states are liberal Northeastern ones that have ruined their insurance markets through hyper-regulation. Under the Alternative, people living in such states could escape their high prices by buying across state lines.)
Obamacare has banned millions of Americans’ existing health plans. Under the Alternative, no one’s existing plan (even plans purchased under Obamacare) would be banned. No one could be re-priced or kicked off of his or her existing plan (even a plan purchased under Obamacare) because of a preexisting condition. Anyone with existing insurance (even insurance purchased under Obamacare) who wants to shop for a better value would be free to do so and couldn’t be charged more for a preexisting condition. And anyone eligible for Medicaid under pre-Obamacare rules could freely choose to leave Medicaid and take the tax credit to buy real insurance.
What’s more, the 2017 Project’s Alternative would offer typical middle-class individuals and families who buy insurance on their own a tax credit — typically $6,000 for a family of four — thereby finally end the unfairness in the tax code, which favors employer-based insurance and thus has sapped the individual market of its vigor. Such Americans typically aren’t getting anything under Obamacare, which provides huge subsidizes to the near-poor and the near-elderly at great expense to the middle class and the young.
The Alternative wouldn’t rely on an individual mandate, an employer mandate, an auto-enroll provision, or any other intrusions upon liberty. It would repeal every last word of Obamacare and replace it with real reform that would shift things in the conservative direction from the pre-Obamacare status quo.
Polling suggests that this is what Americans want — in overwhelming numbers. The question is, will Republicans give it to them?
Jeffrey H. Anderson is executive director of the 2017 Project, which is working to advance a conservative reform agenda.
© 2014 Weekly Standard LLC. Reprinted with permission.