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Unfavorable Views Of Health Law Spike In July: Poll

The health law’s unpopularity among the public rose sharply in July with a surge of disapproval from people who had been agnostic about it in recent months, a poll released Friday shows. The law is as unpopular as it has been since it was enacted four years ago.

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 53 percent of the public had an unfavorable view of the law in July, the highest level since the law was passed in 2010. It was up from 45 percent in June. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)  The law’s unpopularity hit similar levels several times since passing, most recently in January when 50 percent of people disliked it.

Support for the law in July remained about the same as in June, with 37 percent supporting it. The change came from the number of people who had previously told pollsters they did not know or refused to discuss their opinions: while 16 percent fell into that group in June, only 11 percent did in July.

The poll did not provide any definitive answers for the change but noted that people reported that their informal chatter with friends and family was more than four times as likely to be negative as supportive toward the law.

Public opinion was evenly divided on the Supreme Court’s decision that closely held companies such as the Hobby Lobby craft stores could refuse to provide workers with birth control through their insurance because it violated the religious beliefs of the company. Women and men also saw things pretty much the same. Seven of 10 Republicans hailed the decision, and Democrats disliked it just as strongly. The public was split about whether the decision will make it harder for women to get prescription birth control. Few people said the court’s action would make them more likely to vote in the fall mid-term elections.

Nearly six in 10 people believe that the decision may lead to employers using religious justifications to attempt to deny coverage for other health services, such as vaccinations or blood transfusions. Three-quarters of Democrats believed this is likely while 59 percent of Republicans do not. Just one in eight people think the court’s decision is a major setback for the health law. However, a third of the public did not know the decision was related to the health law.

The poll noted, as prior foundation polls have, that much of the public does not know how big parts of the law work. Fewer than four in 10 people were aware that people getting insurance through the law had a choice among private plans, even though most areas of the country have multiple insurers offering competing policies. A quarter of people thought there was a single government plan.

The poll was conducted from July 15 through July 21 among 1,507 adults. The margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.