The April health tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the public is almost evenly split between favorable and unfavorable views of the Affordable Care Act as favorable views are on a slow but steady rise.
The percentage of survey respondents who report a favorable view, 43 percent, is the highest percentage recorded since November 2012. It's also the first time since that date that the percentage of those who hold a favorable views is larger than the percentage of those who hold an unfavorable view. Forty-two percent of respondents said they hold a negative view of the law, which is just one percentage point lower than the favorable percentage and therefore not statistically significant.
The March tracking poll recorded just a difference of just two percentage points, with 41 percent viewing the law favorably and 43 percent unfavorably, which was the closest margin in more than two years.
Public opinion continues to follow party lines, with most Democrats favoring the law (70 percent) and most Republicans viewing it unfavorably (75 percent). More independents still hold an unfavorable view, with 46 percent disapproving and 42 percent approving of the law.
One area where people from across the political spectrum are in agreement is on the issue of what Congress and the president should do next to improve the law: 76 percent of the public, including Democrats, Republicans and independents, all say that the top priority should be ensuring that high-cost drugs for chronic conditions such as HIV, hepatitis, mental illness and cancer are affordable. Other important priorities include government action to lower prescription drug prices, increasing provider network protections and increasing transparency surrounding the quality and price of health care.
Other highlights from the poll include:
- The public is largely unaware that congressional budget analysts have said the law will cost the government less than they first anticipated. Just eight percent of poll respondents correctly said cost projections are lower, while half said the law is costing more and 23 percent say they don't know.
- More than half of Americans, 56 percent, say the law has had no direct impact on their families. The gap between those who say the law has helped them (19 percent) and and those who say it has hurt them (22 percent) is narrowing, compared to previous Kaiser Health Tracking Polls in which consistently higher percentages of people said the law had hurt them.
- Public views on whether Congress should expand the law, keep it as is, scale it back or repeal it entirely have held steady for nearly six months. The April tracking poll found that 24 percent of people want to see Congress expand the law, and 22 percent said they should continue implementing it as is. Twelve percent say Congress should scale it back, while 29 percent still support a full repeal.