The Republican strategy of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) before devising a replacement plan has the support of only one in five Americans, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The poll also disclosed that shrinking the federal government’s involvement and spending in health care—the long-sought goal of many Republican lawmakers—is less important to most Americans than ensuring that medical care is affordable and available.

Views were split not only on partisan lines but also within the Republican Party, where nearly four in 10 thought the government should guarantee that health care is available to the elderly and to low-income people.

Despite the rout of Democrats in the election, which gave the GOP control of both the White House and Congress, the public’s views on the PPACA remain as divided as they were since the act was passed by congressional Democrats––without Republican participation––in 2010. Currently, 47% of the public wants to keep the act, which upended the way insurers do business and expanded coverage to an estimated 20 million Americans.

In the new survey, more respondents (28%) wanted a replacement plan announced before the PPACA is repealed than those who said the act needed to be dismantled immediately (20%).

The poll also found that Democratic fears that repeal of the PPACA will damage health care are not shared by most Americans. Sixty percent of the respondents believed that the quality of their care would remain the same after repeal, and only 20% thought that their care would worsen. Families in which someone had a serious medical condition were more worried, but even among them, only a third anticipated that the cost of their health care would suffer if the PPACA were dismantled.

Moreover, the poll found that the public’s most widely shared health goal is reducing the cost of care, with 67% of respondents calling it a top priority. Lowering the cost of prescription drugs was a top priority for 61% of respondents, followed by addressing prescription pain-killer addictions (45%). Repealing the PPACA was a top priority for 37% of respondents, primarily among Republicans.

The poll was conducted on December 13–19, 2016, among 1,204 adults.

Source: Kaiser Health News; January 6, 2017.

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