Toss individual health insurance mandate, poll says

Washington Post – Scott Clement

Most Americans want the Supreme Court to invalidate at least part of the landmark health-care law that was passed in 2010, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The law’s individual mandate remains a key sticking point, with one in four hoping the court will strike down the provision but leave the rest of the law intact.

More than four in 10 — 42 percent — want the high court to throw out the entire law, 25 percent want to do away with the mandate alone and a similar proportion wants the justices to uphold the entire law.

Just over half the public thinks the mandate is unconstitutional (51 percent), according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released last week. In that survey, fewer than three in 10 (28 percent) said they think the mandate is constitutional. Nearly as many were unsure. Previous Kaiser polls found the mandate to be the least popular provision in the law; majorities supported all other components tested.

But the fate of the mandate and the overall law may be joined at the hip, because health-care costs could skyrocket without the prospect of more universal insurance coverage. And from a public-opinion standpoint, in the Post-ABC poll, 52 percent of those who would opt to toss the mandate alone, would prefer the court get rid of the entire law if that’s what it would take to remove the requirement. Fewer, 44 percent, would opt to keep the entire law in that case.

Seven in 10 report recently hearing more about the law’s drawbacks. Republicans perceive a much more downbeat discussion than others, but even among Democrats, 53 percent report hearing mostly negative things, while 34 percent report hearing mostly positive.

In a basic assessment, 41 percent of Americans support the health-care law, while 52 percent are opposed. The measure has never scored majority support in Post-ABC polls.

Republicans are more united in opposing the law than Democrats are in favoring it. Among independents, 51 percent oppose and 43 percent support, a margin that is not statistically significant.

Ratings of President Obama parallel views of the health-care law. Two-thirds of those who approve of his job performance also support the legislation, but more than three-quarters of Obama disapprovers oppose it.