Poll: Most want focus on making the health care system work

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With the start of open-enrollment for Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges around the country fast approaching, nearly six in 10 Americans say the Trump administration is doing too little to make sure the nation’s health insurance system works the way it should, according a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

A similar 60% say that trying to make sure the current health insurance system works should be a higher priority than trying to replace the current system with something else.

A recent plan from Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Patty Murray, D-Washington, would restore Affordable Care Act cost-sharing reduction payments for two years in exchange for more state flexibility in Obamacare, providing some stability to markets roiled by President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind those subsidy payments earlier this month. But Trump has publicly waffled on whether to back the plan, and at least one Republican in Senate leadership, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, has declared the bill “stalled out.”

About four in 10 Americans — and most Republicans (66%) — say it should be a higher priority for the Trump administration and Congress to try to replace the current health care system. But most Americans are doubtful that the President and Republican-controlled Congress will be able to make progress on health care reform this year. Overall, just 33% say that’s very or somewhat likely, while 63% say it’s unlikely. Republicans are more optimistic than others that the government led by their party will make progress, but still, just 49% see it as likely.

There was more optimism about progress on health reform in the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. In September 2009, 50% said it was likely that the President and Congress would make substantial progress toward passing health reform by the end of the year.

Now, Democrats and independents largely prioritize making the current system work over replacing it with something else (84% among Democrats, 58% among independents).

As it stands now, Americans say Obamacare’s performance is more the responsibility of the Obama administration which enacted it (56% say so) than the Trump administration, which is managing it (37%). That view holds across party lines, with 56% of Republicans, 53% of independents and 61% of Democrats saying it is more the responsibility of the Obama administration.

Overall, six in 10 disapprove of the way the President is handling health care generally, and 62% say they disapprove of his recent decision to allow employers to stop offering coverage of prescription contraceptives if they have religious or moral objections. Just 32% approve of that policy.

The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone October 12 to 15 among a random national sample of 1,010 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.