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Health Care

As ObamaCare Ages, Its Popularity Wanes


Oct. 16, 2012: President Barack Obama addresses members of the audience during the second presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Hofstra University. (AP/Reuters Pool)

The Affordable Care Act is approaching its four- year anniversary, but the law isn’t gaining any popularity with the American people. But that doesn’t mean they want the president’s signature legislation to go, instead, they want lawmakers to figure out how to best make it work.

More than half (53%) of the country disapproves of ObamaCare, according to new research from The Pew Research Center. Meanwhile, 41% say they approve of the law as the national opinion is “virtually unchanged” since September.  The remaining respondents didn't have an opinion on the law.

Pew conducted the poll among 3,335 adults from Feb. 27 through March 16, just ahead of the ACA’s first year enrollment deadline on March 31. Under the law, every individual in the country has to have coverage by the deadline, or they will face a fine of $95 a year or 1% of their annual income for failing to comply.

To date, the Obama Administration reports 5 million Americans have selected plans on both state and federal exchanges, although it is not yet clear who has made their first month’s payments of these enrollees.

While people’s opinions of the law have held steady, less people want to see it fail compared to September’s numbers.

Thirty percent of Pew’s respondents say they want politicians to do what they can to make the law work as well as possible. On the other hand, 19% saying they want lawmakers to “do what they can to make it fail.”

Paul Howard, director of the Center for Medical Progress at the Manhattan Institute, says the poll shows opinions of the ACA have remained mostly stable as it’s been rolled out.

"The unpopularity of the law has been consistent," Howard says. "I did think it was interesting that Independents were in favor of fixing rather than repealing. [Many] don't think the law will work well."

Pew also found divisions among Americans about the government’s responsibility in providing health care, with 47% reporting it is the federal government’s responsibility to make sure Americans have coverage, with 50% disagreeing.

Interest in health-care news has also tapered off in the latest report, Pew finds. Americans had heightened interest in the topic in November with 37% reporting they closely followed news about health-care exchanges. But as the end of open enrollment period draws nearer, fewer people are following the headlines, with 23% saying they are paying attention.

Follow Kate Rogers on Twitter at @KateRogersNews

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