As Senate GOP leaders continue working to reach a deal among conservative and moderate Republicans on the Senate GOP's health reform bill, several polls released Wednesday show public support for the bill is low.
Two of the polls— NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist and Politico/Morning Consult—were completed before Senate Republicans released a revised version of their bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score showing the bill would lead to 22 million more uninsured U.S. residents by 2026 while cutting $772 billion in Medicaid spending across the next decade.
The other two polls—USA Today/Suffolk University and Quinnipiac University—were completed one day after the revisions and CBO score were released and the same day Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) delayed a planned vote on BCRA amid pushback from some conservative and moderate Republicans.
McConnell now is aiming to reach a consensus on new policy among moderate and conservative senators by Friday so lawmakers can send the revised bill to the CBO over the July 4 recess for a score and hold a vote shortly after they reconvene on July 10. As of this morning, GOP senators were still discussing potential changes to the bill.
Polls show low public support for BCRA
But new polls show public support for BCRA is low.
For instance, the NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, which surveyed 1,205 U.S. adults from June 21 to June 25, found 17 percent of respondents said they approved of BCRA, while 55 percent said they disapproved of the bill. About 25 percent of respondents said they had not heard enough about the bill to have an opinion of it.
Similarly, the Quinnipiac University poll, which surveyed 1,212 registered voters from June 22 to June 27, found that 16 percent of respondents said they supported BCRA, compared with 58 percent who said they disapproved of the bill.
And the USA Today/Suffolk University poll suggested support for BCRA was even lower. The poll, which surveyed 1,000 registered voters from June 24 to June 27, found that 12 percent of respondents said they supported BCRA, compared with 45 percent who said they opposed the bill and 40 percent who said they did not know enough about the legislation to have an opinion.
Further, the USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that 53 percent of respondents said Congress should leave the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as-is or work to fix it while keeping the law largely intact. However, the poll also found that 80 percent of Republican respondents said they supported repealing the ACA, and nearly a third of GOP respondents said they supported repealing the ACA even if a plan to replace the law is not ready. Still, just 26 percent of Republican respondents said they supported BCRA, compared with 52 percent who said they needed more information before they could express an opinion on the bill and 17 percent who said they opposed it, according to the poll.
In the best-case scenario from the polls released Wednesday, the Politico/Morning Consult poll, which surveyed 1,994 registered voters from June 22 to June 24, found that 38 percent of respondents said they supported BCRA, compared with 45 percent of respondents who said they disapproved of the bill and 17 percent who said they did not know or had no opinion of the bill. In addition, the poll found that:
- 42 percent of respondents said they thought BCRA would increase their families' health care costs, compared with 21 percent who said they thought the bill would decrease costs;
- 41 percent of respondents said they thought BCRA would make the U.S. health care system worse, compared with 29 percent who thought the bill would improve the U.S. health care system; and
- 38 percent of respondents said they thought the bill would hurt health care quality, compared with 26 percent who said they thought BCRA would improve quality of care.
According to the poll, 38 percent of respondents said they thought BCRA would make too many changes to the U.S. health care system, while 23 percent said they thought BCRA would not make enough changes.
Some experts said it is unsurprising that public opinion of BCRA is low, given the CBO's predictions on how the bill could affect the U.S. uninsured rate.
Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, said, "With numbers like these, it's not surprising the Republican leadership in Congress is having a difficult time building consensus."
Kyle Dropp, Morning Consult's co-founder and chief research officer, said, "The tension between moderate Republicans and hard-liners that is playing out in the Senate is mirrored in the polling" (Shepard (1), Politico, 6/28; Taylor, NPR, 6/28; Quinnipiac University release, 6/28; Savransky, The Hill, 6/28; Shepard (2), Politico, 6/28; Page/Kinery, USA Today, 6/28).
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