A newly published poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonpartisan organization that promotes stronger health care strategies across the U.S., finds that if former President Donald Trump aims to make ending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a priority in his 2024 campaign, he’ll be doing so at his own detriment.
The ACA, commonly known as Obamacare, eases the burdens of many Americans by providing subsidies for their health insurance spending. The law also includes a ban on insurers denying coverage based on a person’s preexisting health conditions.
The law is by no means perfect — progressive critics of the ACA note that it empowers private health insurance companies and fails to bring the country closer to a single-payer health care option. But comments from Trump last month suggest that he’s ready to ditch the law in its entirety.
As president, Trump pushed legislation to end the ACA. However, three Republican senators joined with Democrats to stop the repeal, and Republicans largely gave up trying to repeal the law afterward.
In late November, Trump reinvigorated his calls for eliminating the ACA on his social media site Truth Social.
“We had a couple of Republican Senators who campaigned for 6 years against it, and then raised their hands not to terminate it,” Trump said in his post. “It was a low point for the Republican Party, but we should never give up!”
Trump’s comments could reignite interest in an issue that Republicans — who have failed dozens of times to end the ACA — have tried to back away from, as they have come to see repeal of the law as a political liability. Indeed, at the start of this year, the idea of pushing for repeal was so adamantly rejected by Republicans that many doubted it would be an issue in the 2024 presidential election at all.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that [potential GOP candidates for president] are looking to relitigate at this point a 12-year-old law,” Sen. J.D. Vance said in February.
The KFF poll published over the weekend suggests that Trump, if he continues to push for repeal in the GOP primaries and in the eventual general election season, will hurt his chances of defeating President Joe Biden next fall.
According to the poll, inflation and the cost of household expenses is the top concern for most voters. But coming in at second place is the affordability of health care, with 80 percent of voters describing it as a “very important” topic for the presidential race.
The ACA itself is ranked lower in terms of importance for voters. But even though the law hasn’t been widely discussed or featured in headlines over the past year, nearly half of voters (49 percent) still deem it a very important issue for the election.
That number could go up if threats to the law from Trump or other lawmakers continue. The poll also shows that 6 in 10 voters say Democrats are more trustworthy in handling issues pertaining to the ACA.
Other polling demonstrates that the health care law is hugely popular — a survey conducted in May of this year found that 59 percent of voters view the ACA favorably, while just 40 percent have an unfavorable view of the law.
Democratic Party campaign strategists have indicated that they intend to make Trump’s call to end the ACA a major talking point during the campaign. In late November, the Biden campaign produced a political ad that featured a pediatric nurse lauding the administration’s moves to lower prescription drug costs and warning against repealing the ACA.
“The idea that we could go back to the policies that helped the rich get richer and left so many people behind — I don’t want to go back,” the nurse says in the ad. “We can’t go back.”