WASHINGTON — Most Americans want Congress to focus on actions that lower their family's health care expenses, rather than on sweeping actions such as implementing Medicare-for-all, or repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey.
At a time when the large and growing field of Democratic presidential candidates is emphasizing universal health coverage — with those on the left advocating Medicare for all — not quite half of the respondents identifying as Democrats regard that as a priority for Congress, compared with to 14 percent of Republicans, according to the latest poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Majorities of both parties, on the other hand, believe Congress should find ways to lower the expense of prescription drugs, according to the poll results released on Wednesday. Drug costs are the top priority for repondents of both parties in Kaiser's poll, as they have been for some time.
Preserving consumer protections so that insurance is affordable for people with pre-existing medical conditions also ranks high as something people want Congress to do, with nearly two-thirds of Americans supporting the idea, the poll shows. So does legislation intended to cushion patients from surprise medical bills, supported by 50 percent of the public, including nearly half of Republicans.
Kaiser's long-running tracking poll also shows that the Trump administration is out of sync with public attitudes in its renewed determination, in both the president's recent remarks and its legal position in a federal lawsuit, to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
Just slightly more than one-fourth of the public overall say that Congress should repeal the ACA, the sprawling 2010 health-care law that was a signature domestic accomplishment of President Barack Obama. But the partisan divide is sharp, with 16 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans saying the repeal should be a priority on Capitol Hill.
And asked about the most popular aspects of the law, majorities say they fear the effects if ACA were to go away.
Nearly two-thirds say they are concerned that they or someone in their family would be unable to afford coverage if the Supreme Court overturned either the entire law or its protections for people with pre-exising conditions. And more than half say they fear they or someone in their family would lose coverage as a result.
As people were asked those questions, the law has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Texas and is now before an appellate court.
Meanwhile, large majorities of those polled say that the government should protect patients if they end up with large, surprise bills because part of their care was delivered by a provider outside of their insurers' networks. More than three-quarters of those polled said the government should protect people taken to an emergency room by an out-of-network ambulance or taken to an out-of-network emergency room.
Three-quarters also believe patients should be protected financially if they are at a hospital in their insurers' network but treated by a doctor who is outside it.