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Poll: More Want to Keep Health Care Law Than Want to Repeal It

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.


More Americans want to keep the sweeping health care reform legislation passed last year than want to repeal it, according to a new CBS News/New York Times survey. Forty-eight percent of Americans say they want to keep the law in place, while 40 percent want to see it repealed.

Republicans campaigned on repealing the bill in the run-up to the midterm elections, and one of the first actions of the new GOP-led House was to pass a repeal bill.

Unsurprisingly, Americans are split on the issue along party lines. Seventy-three percent of Republicans favor repeal, compared to just 16 percent of Democrats. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats want to keep the law, compared to just 16 percent of Republicans. Independents favor keeping it by a small margin, 45 percent to 38 percent.

Among those who do favor repeal, 50 percent say they want the law repealed in full. Forty-four percent want only certain parts of it repealed.

Thirty-five percent of those who favor repeal said they would not want to see the law overturned if it meant insurers would not be required to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. Fifty-two percent said they would still favor repeal even if that is the case.

health care, congress, protest CBS/AP

Health care is not what many Americans say they want the new Congress to focus on, however. Just 18 percent say it should be the top priority for lawmakers.  A far higher percentage - 43 percent - says the most important issue is job creation. 

Just one in four Americans say the health care law, which is being phased in gradually, has helped the economy. A higher percentage - 40 percent - say it has hurt.

Only 13 percent say they have benefited from the provisions that have already gone into effect, including allowing parents to cover children on their insurance until age 26 and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Eighty-four percent say they have not yet benefited.

Only one in ten Americans say the bill's impact has been explained to them very well. A majority - 56 percent - say it has not been explained to them even somewhat well.


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Read the Complete Poll

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,036 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone January 15 - 19, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

Watch Washington Unplugged's political roundtable Friday with CBS News Director of Surveys Sarah Dutton and CBS Evening News Senior Producer Ward Sloane here.

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