Feb 24, 2020 - Health

Republican voters have moved on from hating the ACA

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Axios Visuals

Republican voters have moved on from the Affordable Care Act, shifting their focus and opposition instead toward Medicare for All.

By the numbers: In our latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, 19% of registered Republicans said opposition to Medicare for All is their top health care issue, compared to just 3% who said the same for opposition to the ACA.

Republicans’ top issue overall is the same as the overall public’s: Reducing health care costs.

  • Repealing the ACA was Republicans' top health care priority as recently as 2016.

Yes, but: This does not mean attempts to repeal the ACA are over.

  • President Trump and many Republican leaders still support it, and the idea remains popular with Republican voters even as it has become a lower priority for them.

Between the lines: The ACA “s popularity is at a high point — 55% support and 37% oppose it — and many of its provisions are popular across partisan lines.

  • The health care law was in some ways an outlet for Republicans to channel their broader opposition to Obama, so temperatures have cooled since he left office.
  • And the least popular element of the ACA, the individual mandate penalty, is also gone.
  • Repealing “Obamacare” will still generate applause lines at Republican rallies, but Republicans and President Trump now see a bigger payoff with their base from branding Democratic ideas as socialism and and attacking Medicare for All.

What’s next: If Sen. Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee, the focus on Medicare for All and the ensuing partisan warfare on health will intensify.

  • If President Trump wins reelection, the current conflagration over Medicare for All will likely give way to a renewed debate about his plans for the ACA and Medicaid.
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