Exchange woes didn’t sway public opinion

By BenefitsPro


By Kathryn Mayer

Public support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has held steady in spite of the exchanges’ widely reported website woes that have plagued enrollment and haunted the administration over the past month.

According to Kaiser Family Foundation’s October health tracking poll, released Friday, the public remains divided, but largely negative, on the law. Forty-four percent said they have an unfavorable view of the law, while 38 percent view the law favorably, virtually unchanged from September’s ratings. The remaining 18 percent said they “don’t know enough to say.”

Despite no change in public opinion over the law, the majority still acknowledge the implementation of the law hasn’t gone smoothly. Nearly half (48 percent) said the federal government has done a poor job implementing the law and another third (32 percent) rate its performance as “only fair.” State governments received higher marks for implementation, but the majority still rates their state’s performance as “only fair” (34 percent) or “poor” (29 percent).

Public perception on the law’s launch could have been much worse: The poll found the partial government shutdown and debt-ceiling debates both distracted Americans from the rough launch of healthcare.gov. More than four in 10 (44 percent) said they followed the fight over the shutdown and debt ceiling “very closely,” while half that many (22 percent) said the same about the website problems.

The poll of 1,513 adults was conducted between Oct. 17-23, before the deluge of reports on people getting plan cancellation notices from carriers, the law’s latest hurdle.

Projected enrollment numbers have been much smaller than the administration had hoped, and poll after poll has found that Americans remain confused and uneducated about the law.

But Kaiser’s poll found the administration’s push to spread the word about PPACA has helped. This month, 59 percent said they saw some type of ad or commercial about the health care law, up from 43 percent last month. And, for the first time, the share saying they saw ads providing information about how to get coverage (36 percent) is about the same as those saying they saw ads for or against the law (38 percent for each).

The poll also indicated Americans aren’t ready to give up either: A total of 47 percent said they want Congress to keep or expand the law, versus 37 percent who said they want the law to be replaced or repealed.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com