WASHINGTON — First it was President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul that divided the nation. Now it’s the Republican cry for repeal.
An Associated Press-GfK poll found likely voters evenly split on whether the law should be scrapped or retooled to make even bigger changes in the way Americans get their health care.
Tea party enthusiasm for repeal has failed to catch on with other groups, the poll found, which may be a problem for Republicans vowing to strike down Obama’s signature accomplishment if they gain control of Congress in the Nov. 2 elections.
Among likely voters, 36 percent said they want to revise the law so it does more to change the health care system. A nearly identical share – 37 percent – said they want to repeal it completely.
“We just can’t ignore the health of people in our country. … It would be an even bigger drain on the economy,” said Linda Montgomery, 63, a retired software engineer from Pass Christian, Miss. “I wouldn’t oppose having the law changed – I would like to see it expanded even more.”
But Joe Renier, an information technology manager, said he finds that view “actually quite scary.”
“They want more power for the government,” said Renier, 54, of Tucson, Ariz. “I don’t believe the government has a right to tell us to buy health insurance,” he said, adding that the law does nothing to address unsustainable health care costs.
In the poll, only 15 percent said they would leave the overhaul as it is. And 10 percent wanted modifications to narrow its scope.
The health care law will eventually extend coverage to more than 30 million uninsured by signing up low-income adults for Medicaid and providing middle-class households with tax credits for private insurance. Starting in 2014, most Americans will be required to carry coverage, and insurers no longer will be allowed to turn away people in poor health.
Overall, Americans remain divided about the changes. Among likely voters, 52 percent oppose the legislation, compared with 41 percent who said they support it. Strong opponents outnumber strong supporters by 2-to-1.