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Poll: Americans want bipartisan ACA fix, say repeal failure a 'good thing'

A majority of Americans want Republicans to work with Democrats to fix the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and said the Senate's failure in July to repeal the law was a "good thing," according to a new poll from the nonpartisan nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

A survey of 1,211 U.S. adults conducted Aug. 1 to Aug. 6 found that more of the public holds a favorable view of the ACA than an unfavorable one, 52% versus 39%.

About 78% said they want President Donald Trump and his administration to do what they can to make the ACA work, versus 17% who want the law to fail so it can be later replaced. Just over half of the Republicans and Trump supporters surveyed said it was better to repair the law rather than see it fail.

Most Americans, 60%, said Trump and the Republicans on Capitol Hill are now responsible for any problems with the ACA.

About 60% of those surveyed said it was a "good thing" the Senate did not pass the Republicans' legislation to repeal and replace the 2010 law, which is considered former President Barack Obama's greatest legislative achievement.

Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, but their majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, fell short in getting enough members of his party on board to pass a healthcare bill using a 51-vote simple majority. He failed on three separate attempts: a comprehensive repeal and replace bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act; the repeal-only legislation, the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act; and the "skinny repeal" bill, the Health Care Freedom Act, which would have ended the ACA's requirements for eligible Americans to buy healthcare insurance or pay a tax penalty and put other temporary provisions in place.

Trump has sharply criticized McConnell for the failure and said Congress should not take on other issues, like tax reform, until it passes an ACA repeal-and-replacement bill.

But 62% of Americans surveyed disagreed with that approach, compared with 34%, Kaiser reported.

They poll showed that a majority, 57%, want Republicans in Congress to work with Democrats to make improvements to the ACA. About 21%, however, said they want Republicans to continue pursuing a go-it-alone plan to repeal and replace the ACA.

Marketplace stability

While a majority of Americans, 69%, said it was more important for Trump and the Republicans to fix the remaining problems with the ACA to help the insurance marketplaces work better, the parties were sharply divided on whether the repeal-and-replace efforts should continue.

About 61% of Republicans and 63% of Trump supporters said it was more important for the latter effort to continue, versus 90% of Democrats and 69% of Independents who want the law fixed to ensure the marketplaces do not fail.

Most of those surveyed, 80%, said they did not approve of the Trump administration stopping outreach efforts for the ACA marketplaces so that fewer people would sign up for insurance.

About 65% also said they disapproved of no longer enforcing the ACA's individual mandate — the provision in the law that requires eligible Americans to buy healthcare insurance or pay a tax penalty.

A majority of Americans also said Trump should not use the cost-sharing reduction payments — funds that help low-income Americans cover their deductibles and copayments — as a negotiating tactic to get lawmakers to pass repeal-and-replace legislation.

Healthcare insurers reported the uncertainty about the cost-sharing payments and the future of the individual mandate contributed to their decisions to raise premiums for 2018.

A majority of Americans surveyed said they believed health insurance companies charging higher premiums in certain marketplaces would have a negative impact on them and their families, while 31% said it would have no impact on them.