Polls Show Americans, Like Their Justices, Are Still Divided Over Health Care

Jul 3, 2012

Americans remain about as polarized over President Obama's health care law as the nine members of the Supreme Court, according to polls taken after last week's ruling.

The Pew Research Center finds that 40 percent of respondents disapprove of the high court ruling, which upheld the bulk of the national health care law; 36 percent approve of the 5-to-4 decision, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court's four-justice liberal wing.

That means 3 in 4 Americans have an opinion about the law, but Pew finds that just 55 percent of the public know that the court upheld most of the law's provisions. Among that group, 50 percent approve of the ruling and 42 percent disapprove.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds a near-even split based on the Supreme Court decision: 43 percent approve; 42 percent disapprove.

The nonprofit, independent Kaiser Family Foundation, in its post-ruling poll, finds 47 percent of respondents approve and 43 percent disapprove. As with the other polls, opinion is largely divided along ideological lines.

On general-election implications, Kaiser finds that 31 percent of Republicans say the ruling makes them more likely to vote, while 18 percent of Democrats answered that way.

The Kaiser poll also tries to measure the issue's staying power and finds: "In the wake of the court ruling, more than half of Americans (56 percent) say they would like to see the law's detractors stop trying to block its implementation and instead move on to other national problems, while 38 percent say opponents should continue trying to halt the [health care law]. Democrats, not surprisingly, are overwhelmingly likely to support the idea of moving on (82 percent), but they are joined by 51 percent of independents and 26 percent of Republicans. On the flip side, most rank-and-file Republicans (69 percent) say they want to see efforts to stop the law continue."

Kaiser plans another poll later this month to track whether (and how) opinion changes as the decision sinks in.

The Associated Press has taken a fact-check look at some of the claims being made by President Obama and Mitt Romney now that the court has spoken. AP takes issue with both sides, writing: "In promoting the health care law, President Barack Obama is repeating his persistent and unsubstantiated assurance that Americans who like their health insurance can simply keep it. Republican rival Mitt Romney says quite the opposite, but his doomsday scenario is a stretch."

And NPR's partners at the fact-checking organization PolitiFact note that many of the claims that were featured during the 2009 health care debate have been resurrected since Thursday's Supreme Court ruling. It has compiled five "back to the future" health care claims, with an assessment of their accuracy.

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