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Majority of Americans Want Major Changes to Health Law

Majority of Americans Want Major Changes to Health Law

by Art Swift

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After two months of glitches with the new federal healthcare website and attempts to fix it, the percentage of Americans who prefer that Congress scale back or entirely repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or "Obamacare," has changed little. Fifty-two percent favor scaling back (20%) or repealing (32%) the law, similar to the 50% from mid-October.

Trend: Attitudes Toward the Affordable Care Act

At least half of Americans have said they would repeal or scale back the law each time Gallup has asked this question since January 2011.

The latest results are from a Gallup poll conducted Dec. 3-4, after a tumultuous two months for the Obama administration's healthcare website. Technical issues hamstrung potential buyers from purchasing health insurance through the website.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Dec. 1 that the federal health exchange website now works for the "vast majority" of users, though it is too early to determine whether this announcement has affected public opinion of the law.

Americans are about as likely to say they would like Congress to "expand" the healthcare law or "keep it as it is" as they were in October, although a minority hold these views. Twenty percent want Congress to expand the law, up from 14% in October, while 17% want the law to be kept as is, down from 24%.

Overall, 37% of Americans want the law expanded or kept as is, while 52% want the law repealed or scaled back, roughly similar to the 40% who approve and 54% who disapprove in the latest update on overall attitudes toward the ACA. The fact that 32% want an outright repeal, compared with 54% who disapprove of the law, suggests that some of those who disapprove still do not want to do away with the law altogether.

Republicans Increasingly Want Repeal, Democrats Increasingly Want Expansion

Nearly four years after "Obamacare" was passed, Republicans and Democrats are still deeply divided about whether Congress should modify it. Republicans are more likely to say they want to repeal the healthcare law today (68%) than they were in October (57%). In contrast, Democrats are more likely to want Congress to expand the law (34%) than they were in October (22%).

While 90% of Republicans want Congress to repeal or scale back the law, 65% of Democrats would like to expand the law or keep it as is. Independents almost exactly mirror the national averages, with 50% in favor of repealing or scaling the law back, and 37% saying they would like to expand it or keep it as is.

Trend: Attitudes Toward the Affordable Care Act, by Party Identification

Bottom Line

The time since the federal health exchange website officially launched on Oct. 1 has been a period of turmoil for the ACA, with reports of many Americans struggling to successfully sign up for insurance. Despite HHS's announcement on Dec. 1 that the technical issues have been mostly fixed and reports of 29,000 new enrollees in the days thereafter, Americans so far are no less likely to say Congress should repeal the law or scale it back.

As the Obama administration continues to make fixes to the site and the Dec. 23 deadline approaches to enroll for coverage that starts on Jan. 1, Americans' views about congressional action on the healthcare law have remained steady, and it is unclear whether they will budge in the months to come.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Dec. 3-4, 2013, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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