10 Years Later, Americans Still Split on Obamacare

(CN) – Nearly 10 years after its passage, the landmark health care legislation commonly called Obamacare continues to divide Americans according to a new poll.

A Gallup poll released Wednesday finds Americans remain split on their approval of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act almost a decade after being signed by President Barack Obama in March 2010. Exactly half of Americans say that they approve of the health care law, while 48% say they disapprove.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi defends the Affordable Care Act at the U.S. Capitol in March 2019 after the Trump administration told the Fifth Circuit that the entire law should be struck down. (AP file photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This split on the Affordable Care Act is not new. Previous Gallup polls have shown Obamacare has divided the nation since its inception, with previous numbers incredibly similar to those seen today. In November 2012, when Obama was fending off a re-election challenge from Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Obamacare stood as a highly continuous issue, Gallup reported that 48% of Americans supported the new health care act while 45% opposed it.

The divide of public opinion on Obamacare has not dulled with time.

There have been periods where public sentiment has shifted on the issue of Obamacare most noticeably, however. More Americans opposed the law, for instance, during Obama’s second term in office, when the law was continually challenged in court and the Obamacare website suffered from frequent technical hiccups.

The poll shows that while remaining a significantly contested issue, more Americans turned slightly in favor of the Affordable Care Act during President Donald Trump’s first year in office – a time when a Republican-controlled Congress tried repeatedly to repeal the health care law.

Since November 2018, public opinion has not swayed in either direction and remains evenly split.

The divide on Obamacare is, as it has been in the past, split along party lines. Only 11% of Republicans say that they approve of the law, while 87% disapprove. On the other end of the spectrum, 84% of Democrats support Obamacare and 15% oppose.

Independents, meanwhile, are also split. Just over half (53%) say they approve of the health care law, while 44% disapprove.

The poll also found that those grappling with a pre-existing condition are somewhat more likely to stand in support of Obamacare, with 55% supporting and 43% against. Opinion is just about evenly split among those without a pre-existing condition, with 49% approving and 50% disapproving.

The kind of insurance one has does not have much an influence on feelings about Obamacare. Exactly half of those who have insurance through Medicaid or Medicare say they approve of the health care law and exactly half of those who have private health care insurance say they support it.

This public opinion on Obamacare is sure to play a significant role in the ongoing political debate over health care ahead of the the 2020 elections. Within the Democratic primary alone, health care continues to be hotly debated topic with the field of Democratic contenders often at odds with each other on how to manage Obamacare moving forward.

Some, like former Vice President Joe Biden, have voiced support for building and improving upon the Affordable Care Act. Others like Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren have said they would like to see more sweeping changes take place within America’s health care system.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,015 adults and contained a 4% margin of error.

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