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Poll Shows What The Public Does And Does Not Know About Obamacare


We're going to hone in on health care for a few more minutes. As we said, Republicans in Congress have taken some initial steps toward repealing the Affordable Care Act. But NPR and the polling firm Ipsos have a new poll out that suggests that the public might not be as enthusiastic as many lawmakers are about an all-out repeal, at least not without something to take its place. The poll also offers interesting insights about what the public does and does not know about the Affordable Healthcare Act.

NPR's health correspondent, Alison Kodjak, is here to tell us more about all of this. Alison, thanks so much for joining us.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: First, Alison, tell us some of the significant findings of this poll.

KODJAK: So the poll showed what I think a lot of people know, which is that the public is largely split on Obamacare. They're - about 45 percent of people hate it and 44 percent say they like it. But within that split there are some interesting results, which is those people who say they want the law repealed, more than half of them want to see it replaced. They don't just want it to go away. So in terms of people who want some sort of health care structures to remain in place, that's the vast majority of people in the country now.

MARTIN: There were some surprising findings, too, at least surprising given the public debate that's taken place over the last year and over the course of this election. Tell us a little bit more about that.

KODJAK: In the context of this sort of everybody seeming to want to repeal this law, more than half of the people in the poll say that the Affordable Care Act has done more good than harm. So people have a positive, you know, view of what this law has done. And - this was interesting to me - 55 percent of the people we polled said they would prefer to see a single-payer health system in this country. You know, that - it did break down on party lines. Seventy percent of those were Democrats. But among independents, 55 percent wanted to see single-payer.

MARTIN: Tell us about what people did and did not know, given how important this policy has been to the Obama administration. One thing that stood out for me is that a majority of those surveyed did know that the Affordable Care Act protects people with pre-existing conditions from being refused coverage and that it requires insurance companies to pay for preventive care, but there was something that they didn't know.

KODJAK: What they don't know is that the Affordable Care Act has extended insurance to millions of millions of people, that the uninsured rate has dropped dramatically since the law passed. And that just seems like the one fact the Obama administration should be getting out there. And people aren't really hearing it.

MARTIN: So as we said, the Republicans in Congress are setting in motion a framework for repealing the Affordable Care Act. Are we seeing any signs that lawmakers are responding to this new information?

KODJAK: It seems they are. And, you know, here's what I have seen. Immediately after the election, when Republicans realized they were going to have the ability to repeal the Affordable Care Act, their plan was to repeal the law immediately when they come back to Washington and replace it some time down the line.

And what we're hearing now since Congress came into session in January - and we're hearing it from President-elect Donald Trump - is we're going to repeal it and replace it simultaneously. So even though they're on their way to repealing it, there's a sense that they're going to potentially slow that down while they come up with this replacement plan that they haven't actually showed the public up till now.

MARTIN: That's NPR health correspondent Alison Kodjak. Alison, thanks so much.

KODJAK: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak is a health policy correspondent on NPR's Science Desk.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.

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