Californians have a message for Republican-controlled Washington as the U.S. Senate continues work to overhaul the health care system: We like what we’ve got.
A new statewide poll found that Golden State supporters of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, outnumber opponents by more than 2 to 1. About two-thirds of Californians say they support the law, including 45 percent who do so strongly, while just 26 percent say they’re against it, according to the poll released late Monday by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and done for the California Health Care Foundation.
The figures represent a record level of support for Obamacare, which in this deep blue state is run by a government exchange called Covered California.
But the poll also found 56 percent of Californians worry that they or a family member could lose their insurance should Congress and Republican President Donald Trump move forward with the repeal.
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While it’s unclear what might emerge from the Senate’s closed-door drafting process, “people are seeing that health care is likely to be reduced and they are not clear where that will happen,” said Mark DiCamillo, the poll director. “But a good segment of people worry it will fall on them.”
California’s health care system is primarily based on employer-sponsored insurance, but nearly half get their coverage though Medi-Cal, Medicare or the individual market. Exchange leaders and Democratic lawmakers argue many of the 5 million Californians who receive health coverage through Covered California risk losing insurance under the GOP repeal bill approved last month by the House.
California Democrats want to capitalize on threats to the law as they look to the 2018 midterm elections, setting their sights on seven GOP-held House seats in California in which voters chose Hillary Clinton over Trump. All 14 California House Republicans voted in favor of the Obamacare repeal. Meantime, the Legislature is moving in the other direction, with the Senate recently passing a government-run, universal health care system – Senate Bill 562 being pushed by the National Nurses Union.
As work continued on a bill in the Senate ahead of the July 4 recess, Democrats intent on thwarting its progress were planning to force a series of votes and make late-night speeches.
On the growing popularity of Obamacare, DiCamillo added, “It looks better now than its ever looked because the alternatives they are hearing about seem to be worse.”
Public backing of the law carried across all of the state’s major demographic groups and regions, including Los Angeles County (73 percent) and the San Francisco Bay Area (71 percent). Still, the poll showed a vast partisan divide. Just over 20 percent of Republicans favor the law while 69 percent are opposed.
The poll also found that nearly 70 percent describe Medi-Cal as important to themselves and their families, and nearly 90 percent believe it’s important for its overall impact on the state. Those figures could bode well for supporters of a government-run universal system.