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AP-NORC poll: Negotiate on 'Obamacare,' don't just kill it

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans overwhelmingly want lawmakers of both parties to work out health care changes, with only 13 percent supporting Republican moves to repeal "Obamacare" absent a replacement, according to a new poll.

Although a deep partisan divide endures over the 2010 Affordable Care Act, people may be less far apart on what policymakers should try next, says the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey.

In the poll, 8 in 10 said Republicans should approach Democrats with an offer to negotiate if the current GOP overhaul effort fails, rather than sticking with their own "repeal-and-replace" campaign of the past seven years. And nearly 9 in 10 said Democrats should take Republicans up on such an offer.

The poll was conducted as the GOP's plan floundered in the Senate during the past week.

A foundation for common ground seems to be this: Nearly everyone wants changes to the Obama law, while hardly anyone wants to see it abolished without a substitute in place.

Among Democrats, only 22 percent actually want the ACA kept just as it is; 64 percent want it kept but with changes. Among Republicans, 27 percent want immediate repeal, while 54 percent favor repealing the law when a replacement is ready.

"Since we are a nation that's founded on compromise, I don't see why we can't compromise on this," said Valcee Cox, a retired high school history teacher in Big Spring, Texas. He votes Republican, but says with his party in control of Washington, "they should act like grown-ups."

Republicans including President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have recently pushed the notion of repealing as much of "Obamacare" as possible, then figuring out a replacement later. That's not what the public wants, the poll found.

"When they talk about repeal and not replacing, that scares me half to death," said Andrea Martin of Taylor, Mich. Disabled and dealing with diabetes and other health complications, Martin is keenly sensitive to deep Medicaid cuts proposed by Republicans. That "would just totally destroy me," she said. "I'd just go downhill."