New polling data from NPR, PBS, and Marist University released Wednesday revealed a new obstacle in the Obamacare repeal and replace effort: dismal approval ratings. Only 17 percent of Americans approve of the Senate health care bill, a number that could marks yet another challenge in the Republican Party's years-long crusade to reform health care.
According to the poll, 55 percent of respondents disapproved of the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act, while 24 percent said they hadn't heard enough about it to form an opinion and the other 3 percent were unsure what they thought.
Republicans who responded to the pollare split about what to do about Obamacare, making consensus in the path forward difficult. 53 percent of Republicans surveyed in the poll supported a full repeal of Obamacare, making up the majority of respondents who said that the ACA should be completely gutted. However, 23 percent of Republicans agreed with 64 percent of Democrats, who said that Obamacare should be changed so that it does more. The least popular option, with only 7 percent overall support, is basically what the Republicans are trying to do right now — change the law so that it does less.
The pressure on Republicans is off in a brief, welcome respite since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that there won't be a vote on the bill until at least after Independence Day. After the July 4 recess, Congress will have to move quickly to salvage the chances of passing it into law this year.
Already, the mounting pressure from constituents to vote against the health care bill has resulted in at least nine GOP senators expressing public opposition to the legislation in its current form. And given the difficulty reaching 50 votes right now, several significant concessions are likely to be made as the Senate amends the bill. Observers say working to get moderate Democrats on board, even if it takes a longer time, could be key to this Congress' attempt to salvage poor reputation.
Another poll from USA TODAY and Suffolk University released later on Wednesday shows similarly abysmal polling data for the Senate's bill: 12 percent overall approval rating and even less outright support for repeal. Republicans have a lot of work to do before their legislative goals match their public support, and with the 2018 midterm elections less than 18 months away, there may not be enough time to get it all done. These numbers indicate that there will be a new version of the Senate health care bill soon, so prepare for the whole rollercoaster at least one more time.