Enacting Medicare-for-all or repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act rank lower on the public’s healthcare agenda for Congress than other issues, according to a new poll from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, results of which were released Wednesday.
In the poll, conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,203 adults April 11 to 16 by landline and cell phone, 31% of participants said that implementing a national Medicare-for-all plan should be a top priority, and 27% said that repealing and replacing the ACA should be a top priority. (The majority said they do not want the Supreme Court to overturn the pre-existing condition protections [68%] or the entirety [54%] of the healthcare law, also known as Obamacare, however.)
The poll began one day after presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced that his Medicare-for-all proposal would include coverage for some long-term care. At least three Senate colleagues who also are presidential candidates — Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) — reportedly support the move, which followed the February introduction of the Medicare for All Act of 2019 (H.R. 1384) by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). Under the act, all U.S. residents would be entitled to long-term services and supports if illness, injury or age limited their ability to perform at least one activity of daily living or instrumental activity of daily living.
The top healthcare priorities identified for Congress by Kaiser poll-takers, however, were lowering prescription drug costs (cited by 68%), continuing ACA protections for people with pre-existing conditions (64%) and softening the financial effects of surprise medical bills (50%).
Although overall reactions to terms such as “universal health coverage” and “Medicare-for-all” have remained relatively unchanged since 2017, Kaiser said, the poll revealed an increase in the share of Democrats who now say they have a “very positive” reaction to the term “Medicare-for-all,” from 49% in 2017 to 58% in the April poll. At the same time, 51% of Republicans now say they have a “very negative” reaction to the term compared with 42% in 2017.
Few poll-takers said they want Congress to decrease spending on Medicare (7%) or Medicaid (12%), with most saying they favor stable or increased spending on those programs. By party affiliation, most Democrats said they hoped for increased spending on those programs, whereas most Republicans said they wanted spending to remain the same.