WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly two years after President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA), a new poll finds the health care overhaul is neither better liked nor better understood.
But as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the constitutionality of PPACA, the AP-GfK poll shows that Americans are less concerned that their own personal health care will suffer as a result of it.
Shortly after the law passed in 2010, nearly half — 47% — said they expected the quality of their care to worsen. Now just 32% say that’s their worry.
The Associated Press-GfK Poll was conducted in mid-February by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Most of the law’s major changes have yet to take effect, and dire predictions — of lost jobs, soaring premiums and long waits to see the doctor — have not materialized. Provisions that have gone into effect, including extended coverage for young adults on their parents’ insurance and relief for seniors with high prescription costs, only had a modest impact on health care spending.
Lee Sisson, 63, a semi-retired businessman from Winter Haven, Fla., says he figures that he might be better off personally as a result of the overhaul. For example, it would limit how much health insurance companies can charge older adults. But self-interest hasn’t made Sisson a supporter.
“As a guy that’s semi-retired, the law would probably benefit me, and I’m still against it because it’s not good for our country,” said Sisson. He’s concerned about the cost of new government programs getting passed on to future generations.
Most of the drop in people saying they believe their care will worsen actually comes from those like Sisson, who are opposed to it. Of the law’s opponents, 55% now say their care will worsen. But in April 2010, soon after the law passed, that share was 67%.
Overall, half of Americans say they don’t think the quality of their care will change, while 14% expect it to improve.
The health care debate may be getting less edgy, but it’s unclear how much it will help Obama and Democrats heading into a contentious 2012 election season. Americans remain cool to the major domestic accomplishment of the president’s first term, even if they like some of the law’s provisions.
The poll found that 35% of Americans support the health care law overhaul, while 47% oppose it. That’s about the same split as when it passed. Then, 39% supported it and 50% opposed it.
Opposition remains strongest among seniors, many of whom object that Medicare cuts were used to help finance coverage for younger uninsured people.
“We were supposed to have a nice, relaxed retirement, and now we are scared,” said Nancy Deister Knaack, 65, of Leawood, Kan., a retired special education teacher. “We don’t know what’s going to happen.”