The future of Obamacare is once again in the political spotlight, with former President Donald Trump promising to replace it if he wins the White House next year and President Joe Biden vowing to protect the law if he stays in office.
But the Affordable Care Act, as it’s more formally known, isn’t a top concern among Republicans voters, according to the latest KFF health tracking poll released Friday, which was conducted prior to Trump’s remarks late last month.
In fact, Democratic voters were more than twice as likely as their GOP peers to say that the future of the health reform law is a “very important” issue for the 2024 presidential candidates to discuss. Overall, 49% of voters said the issue is “very important,” but breaking it down by party, 70% of Democratic voters felt that way, while only 32% of Republican voters did. Obamacare had been a key health care issue for GOP voters in the past.
Obamacare burst back onto the political scene over the past week after Trump posted on his Truth Social platform that Republicans should “never give up” on trying to repeal the law, adding that he was “seriously looking at alternatives.” That prompted Biden’s campaign and his Democratic allies to unleash surrogates, messaging pushes and a TV ad aimed at drawing a stark contrast between the president’s efforts to improve health care and Trump’s approach.
Health care remains a top voter issue
The affordability of health care was the second-most important topic that voters want to hear discussed in the coming presidential election campaign, trailing only inflation, KFF found.
Other health care-related issues in the top 10 were the future of Medicare and Medicaid, access to mental health care, prescription drug costs, the opioid crisis, abortion and the future of the Affordable Care Act.
But the importance of health care topics also differed by party affiliation. Democratic voters listed health care affordability as the top issue that’s “very important” for candidates to discuss, followed by gun violence, the future of Medicare and Medicaid, and inflation. Their GOP counterparts said inflation is the top issue, followed by immigration, the affordability of health care and the future of Medicare and Medicaid.
For independent voters, inflation ranked as the top issue, followed by the affordability of health care, the future of Medicare and Medicaid and access to mental health care.
Only 4% of voters overall said abortion is the “most important” issue for 2024 presidential candidates to talk about, KFF found. But 58% of voters said they trust the Democratic Party to handle abortion, while 41% trust the Republican Party.
Some 57% of voters said that a candidate’s position on abortion is only one of many factors in their vote choice. The 2024 election is the first presidential contest following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, eliminating the federal constitutional right to abortion.
Two-thirds of voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, the poll found.
Unaware of Medicare drug price negotiations
Most Americans are not aware of the prescription drug provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, which Democrats enacted last year. Biden has repeatedly heralded these measures – particularly Medicare’s historic new power to negotiate the prices of certain expensive medications – as evidence of his work to lower drug prices, one of Americans’ biggest complaints.
Only 32% of adults in KFF’s latest poll said they were aware that there’s a federal law in place that requires the federal government to negotiate the price of some drugs for Medicare enrollees, though this is up from 25% in July. The Department of Health and Human Services is currently negotiating the prices of 10 costly medications, with the negotiated prices taking effect in 2026.
About a quarter of those surveyed were aware that there are federal laws that cap the cost of insulin at $35 a month for Medicare enrollees, which took effect this year, and place an annual limit on out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for those with Medicare. A $2,000 cap will take effect in 2025.
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