Americans fear losing Obamacare, but want it to change

WASHINGTON - A new poll finds that “Obamacare” still divides Americans, but a majority worries that many people will lose coverage if the 2010 health overhaul is repealed.

It’s the latest twist in the long-running political standoff over health care.

A poll out Friday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 56 percent of U.S. adults are “extremely” or “very” concerned many people will lose health insurance if the law is repealed. That includes more than 8 in 10 Democrats, nearly half of independents and more than 1 in 5 Republicans. Another 45 percent of Republicans say they’re “somewhat” concerned.

Only 16 percent want to see the law, called the Affordable Care Act, repealed immediately, while 31 percent said Congress and the Trump administration should wait until a substitute health program is ready before eliminating Obamacare.

“Many elements of the health care law are popular, and the majority of Americans want to retain them in any replacement law Congress might pass,” according to the AP-NORC Center.

The poll serves as a reality check for Republicans trying to repeal and replace the law. Many provisions enjoy broad popularity. The exception: the requirement that most Americans carry health insurance or face fines.

Overall, 53 percent said the health care law should be kept, and while 46 percent want it repealed. But the poll also shows that Americans think Obamacare needs to be improved: Only 12 percent of respondents said they want to keep the health law unchanged.

The Obamacare provisions respondents said they would most like to see included in new law are the elimination of charges for many preventive treatments; the ban on excluding people with pre-existing medical conditions from health insurance coverage; and the ability of young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

By contrast, the poll shows that most do not support including the “individual mandate” in Obamacare that requires most Americans to have health insurance or face a fine.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,036 adults was conducted January 12-16, 2017.