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The health care issues voters care about most

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Dec 4, 2023
Health care issues voters say are very important for 2024 presidential candidates to talk about
Data: KFF Health Tracking Poll; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Several health care issues register high on voters' priority list — just not the ones that are dominating the political conversation, at least among Republicans.

Why it matters: A new KFF poll underscores why former President Trump reigniting conversation about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was probably a bad idea politically: Most Republicans don't even view the ACA as a priority anymore.

  • The poll was conducted before Trump wrote on Truth Social last week that he's "seriously looking at alternatives" to the Affordable Care Act, later adding that "getting much better Healthcare than Obamacare for the American people will be a priority of the Trump Administration."

The big picture: Republican lawmakers moved on from repeal and replace a long time ago, and it appears that GOP voters have, too.

  • Only 32% of Republican respondents said they think the future of the ACA is a very important issue for 2024 presidential candidates to talk about.
  • That's a stark contrast from how they felt in 2016, when 60% said in a prior KFF poll that repealing the entire health care law should be a top priority for the next president and Congress.

Yes, but: Republicans do care a lot about the affordability of health care, which clever messaging can connect to the ACA — as did the WSJ op-ed Trump included in his Truth Social post that started the whole conversation.

Between the lines: Republicans aren't super excited about abortion as a topic of conversation either, but it continues to dominate headlines.

  • Of course, that's partially because Democrats bring it up a lot.
  • But there's plenty of intra-party fighting over how to handle the issue, including through the appropriations process, which has stretched on for months.
  • And part of the reason it was such a big factor in the 2023 off-year elections was because Virginia Republicans leaned into advocating for a 15-week ban.
  • But the KFF poll also contains this warning for Democrats: Fewer Democratic women said they would only vote for a candidate who shares their view on abortion than in another KFF poll earlier this year.
  • Instead, it suggested that "with other issues dominating recent headlines, abortion may be an issue that voters are considering, but not hanging their hat on."

Respondents also made clear that there are a handful of health care issues that an overwhelming majority do care about and say are important for presidential candidates to discuss.

  • These include the affordability of health care, which 80% of overall respondents said is important for candidates to talk about; the future of Medicare and Medicaid, which three-quarters deemed very important; and access to mental health care, which 70% said was very important.
  • These topics are more important to Democrats, but there's less of a partisan gap than in the ACA and abortion discussions.

The bottom line: Republicans don't stand to gain much even among members of their own party by talking about the ACA or abortion. Yet they find themselves currently in a position where those are the health care subjects getting the most attention.

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