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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Americans' opinions about the Affordable Care Act are sharply divided along political lines, a new study finds.
Democratic voters are strongly in favor of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to the researchers. Almost three-quarters of Democrats want the next Congress to move ahead with the ACA. Thirty percent want Congress to implement the current law, while 44 percent want to expand the scope of the ACA.
Among Independent voters, one-third want the law repealed, and 27 percent want it scaled back. Eight percent of Independents want the current law implemented, and 26 percent want the ACA expanded, according to the findings published online Oct. 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Fifty-six percent of Republican voters want the next Congress to repeal the law, and another 27 percent want it scaled back, according to the research.
These findings come from 27 public opinion polls conducted by 14 organizations, according to the study.
"The intensity of partisan feeling about the ACA in this election could make the next phase of its implementation a very contentious issue in the next Congress," study co-author Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard School of Public Health, said in a university news release.
Health care is considered the third most important issue in the Congressional elections on Nov. 4, the polls revealed.
The study also found that even though millions of previously uninsured Americans now have coverage, public approval of the Affordable Care Act has not improved since it was enacted four years ago.
The number of Americans who believe that the federal government is responsible for ensuring that all Americans have health insurance declined from 64 percent in 2007 to 47 percent in 2014, and is even lower (41 percent) among likely voters, according to the study.
Support for universal health coverage is 70 percent among Democratic voters and 12 percent among Republicans.
"The polling results point clearly to why the election outcome will matter for the ACA. Democrats, were they to be in the majority in Congress, would reflect the views of their party's voters in favor of moving ahead with the implementation of the law, with a high priority on achieving universal coverage," Blendon said.
"With Republicans in the majority, they would see repealing or scaling back the ACA as reflecting the views of their core voters. In addition, they would likely place a lower priority than Democrats on achieving universal coverage the upcoming congressional term," he said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Harvard School of Public Health, news release, Oct. 29, 2014