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Health reform law's approval rising slowly

Health reform law's approval rising slowly

For the first time in nearly three years, more Americans approve of the Affordable Care Act than disapprove of it, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The difference between the opposing views was small — just 1 percentage point — but statistically significant.

The trend lines seem to indicate growing acceptance of the landmark health care law. Approval of the Affordable Care Act bottomed out at 33% in November 2013, shortly after the disastrous launch of, and has risen slowly ever since. Similarly, disapproval spiked at 53% in July of last year, but has since dropped by double digits.

Views continue to vary starkly along partisan lines. The law is favored by 70% of Democrats, compared with just 16% of Republicans. Self-identified independents disapprove of the law 46% to 42%.

Partisanship also colors how people view the Affordable Care Act's impact on their own lives. Roughly a third of Democrats reported that the law has helped them, compared with just 5% of Republicans. But the majority of respondents of all political stripes reported that the law hadn't had a direct impact on their lives.

Confusion about the law remains pervasive. Half of respondents indicated a belief that it is costing more than originally estimated. Only 8%, by contrast, correctly indicated that it is costing less than originally forecast. Last month, the Congressional Budget Office dropped its estimate for spending over the next decade by $142 billion.

Kaiser also asked respondents to select what they believe the top health care priorities should be for lawmakers in Washington. Making sure that drugs for chronic conditions such as HIV and mental illness are affordable was the top choice, selected by 76% of respondents. A majority of respondents also indicated that they want legislators to focus on making sure insurance plans have adequate provider networks and curbing costs for out-of-network care.

Repealing the individual and employer mandates was selected by less than 40% of respondents. A similar share, 36%, indicated that they want Congress to focus on repealing the entire law.

The Kaiser survey of 1,506 adults was conducted April 8 to April 14. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Paul Demko writes for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Business Insurance.

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