Americans' Views on Healthcare Law Remain Stable

by Frank Newport

Latest poll shows 45% saying passage of law was a good thing, 49% a bad thing

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans remain divided on the merits of the new healthcare law, with 45% saying it was a good thing that Congress passed the legislation and 49% saying it was a bad thing. This assessment from an April 8-11 Gallup poll shows little change from two weeks ago.

Do You Think It Is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing That Congress Passed Healthcare Legislation?

More generally, the current level of support mirrors what Gallup has found in polling conducted for months prior to the bill's passage. Over the past year, Americans have been remarkably stable in their assessments of the bill, with neither supporters nor opponents able to generate sustained majority agreement with their position.

Democrats and Republicans have totally different views of the healthcare law -- as has consistently been the case over the last year. More than 8 out of 10 Democrats in the April poll say passage of the law was a good thing, while a similar percentage of Republicans say its passage was a bad thing. Independents are more negative than positive.

Reaction to Passage of Healthcare Reform Bill, by Party ID

Americans Expect and Welcome Future Changes

A late March USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted the week after the bill was passed, found that Americans hardly expect it to be the last word on healthcare legislation. Three-quarters predict that Congress will vote on additional new healthcare legislation within the next five years, and about the same percentage say this would be a good idea.

In the Next Five Years, Do You Think Congress Will or Will Not Vote on Additional, Major Legislation to Either Expand or Cut Back on the Healthcare Legislation Passed This Week?

In the Next Five Years, Do You Want Congress to Vote on Additional Major Healthcare Legislation to Expand or Cut Back on the Recently Passed Legislation?

The wording of this particular question specified changes that would either expand or cut back on the legislation. As a result, support for the idea of altering the law ends up being almost identical across partisan groups.

These findings underscore the fact that Democrats, who largely support the recently passed bill, are still not totally satisfied with it, and would welcome further changes to it in the years ahead. The fact that Republicans, who largely oppose the bill, would also welcome changes (most likely repealing it or cutting it back) suggests that the legislative struggle over healthcare reform is not yet over.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,020 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 8-11, 2010. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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