5 things: Public opinion behind government on health care

AP News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 11:14 AM
5 things: Public opinion behind government on health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans wanted the Supreme Court to side with the government on whether the federal government could continue subsidizing insurance premiums in all 50 states under President Barack Obama's health care law, according to polls conducted before the justices' ruling Thursday.

In a ruling that preserved health insurance for millions of people, the court upheld the nationwide tax subsidies.

Polling ahead of the decision showed that few people had much confidence that the court could rule objectively in King v. Burwell.

Five things to know about public opinion on the Supreme Court's decision on the health care law:

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MOST WANT LAW UPHELD

Fifty-six percent of those questioned wanted the court to rule in favor of the Obama administration, according to an April Associated Press-GfK poll.

Thirty-nine percent preferred a ruling for those who brought the case. The plaintiffs had argued that actual wording of the law should have limited the government to subsidizing premiums in states that had set up their own health insurance exchanges, rather than relying on the federal government exchange.

Nearly three-quarters of Democrats and a slim majority of independents wanted the court to rule in favor of the government; a majority of Republicans wanted the court to limit insurance subsidies under the law to states with their own exchanges.

Among people who opposed the health care law generally, 58 percent wanted the court to limit the government to subsidizing premiums only in states with exchanges. But a significant minority of the law's opponents (39 percent) thought the court should have ruled that the government could continue to subsidize premiums in all states.

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LITTLE CONFIDENCE IN COURT'S OBJECTIVITY

Nearly half of Americans were not too confident or not confident at all that the Supreme Court could rule objectively in the case, according to the April AP-GfK poll. Just 1 in 10 were very or extremely confident, while another 4 in 10 were moderately confident.

Six in 10 opponents of the law, compared with 44 percent of the law's supporters, were not confident in the court's ability to rule objectively.

A CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday found that three-quarters of Americans thought the justices sometimes let their personal or political views influence their decisions rather than deciding solely based on legal analysis.

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FEW CLOSELY FOLLOWING CASE

In the April AP-GfK poll, just 13 percent of Americans said they were following news about the health care case extremely or very closely, while 60 percent said they were not following the case closely.

Likewise, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in June found that 44 percent of Americans had heard nothing at all about the case, and 28 percent had heard only a little.

That's true even though the vast majority of Americans, 78 percent, called health care a very or extremely important issue in the AP-GfK poll.

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MOST WOULD HAVE WANT CONGRESS ACTION

If the court had ruled against the government, 51 percent of Americans in the April AP-GfK poll said they would have liked Congress to update the law to allow the federal government to subsidize premiums in all states. The poll found 44 percent would have preferred that Congress leave the law as is, letting states decide if they wanted to create exchanges that would allow people to receive subsidized premiums.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in June also found most said Congress should pass a law if necessary so that people in all 50 states could be eligible for financial help. And 55 percent of Americans living in states without their own exchanges said they would have wanted their state to create one if necessary.

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CONTINUED DIVIDE OVER HEALTH LAW

In general, the April AP-GfK poll found that 27 percent of Americans support and 38 percent opposed the 2010 health care law, while 34 percent were neither in favor nor opposed.

But there was a significant partisan divide over the law, with 52 percent of Democrats supporting the law, but only 11 percent of independents and just 5 percent of Republicans saying the same.

The poll found 44 percent of Americans approved and 55 percent disapproved of the way Obama has handled health care. But more Americans trusted the Democratic Party than the Republican Party on handling the issue, 34 percent to 24 percent.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,077 adults was conducted online April 23-27, using a sample drawn from GfK's probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using phone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn't otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

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Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com