President Donald Trump seems to think the American public will blame Democrats for the consequences of the actions he’s taken to weaken the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance markets. A new poll suggests he’s wrong.
Seventy-one percent of Americans believe Trump should be doing all he can to make the health insurance exchanges work as well as possible, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. This is consistent with the foundation’s previous survey findings.
Trump has been explicit about his motives for undermining the Affordable Care Act, including by stopping payment of billions of dollars the federal government owes to health insurance companies that serve the poorest exchange enrollees.
He sees sabotaging Obamacare as a means to force congressional Democrats to help revive the GOP’s failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He’s counting on voters to blame chaos in the insurance market on the party that originally created the law and not on his administration, which is currently in charge of enforcing it.
Here’s how Trump put it in July, when he was much more direct about his intentions: “I’ve been saying for a long time: Let Obamacare fail and then everybody is going to have to come together and fix it and come up with a new plan and a plan that’s really good for the people with much lower premiums, much lower costs, and much better protection.”
“I think we’re probably in that position where we’ll just let Obamacare fail,” he added at the time. “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you, the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us, and they’re going to say, ‘How do we fix it? How do we fix it? Or how do we come up with a new plan?’”
Just 21 percent of those polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation agreed with that tactic and think Trump should make the law fail in order to increase pressure on Congress to repeal and replace it.
That would make Trump’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act even less popular than he is. The president’s current approval rating is 39 percent and his disapproval rating is 56 percent, according to HuffPost Pollster.
To be sure, Republicans were much more evenly split on the president’s strategy than Democrats and independents: 48 percent of Republicans said Trump should try to make the Affordable Care Act work, and 43 percent said that he should make it fail.
On the specific question of payments to health insurers, 60 percent of Americans think Congress should restore the funding, although 55 percent of Republicans said lawmakers shouldn’t.
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, are working on legislation to do so, and a handful of congressional Republicans have expressed support for funding the payments. No member of the GOP leadership, however, has endorsed the plan. And the White House signaled on Friday that Trump opposes any deal that doesn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Two-thirds of Americans support efforts to stabilize the insurance exchanges, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, but just over half of Republicans favor resuming the repeal effort instead. Sixty-nine percent ― including large majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents ― would support a bipartisan deal along the lines of what Alexander and Murray are negotiating, the poll shows.