A Majority of Americans Support the Affordable Care Act—And Its Benefits for Women’s Health

The most recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll revealed that a majority of the public—68 percent—support the existing requirement under the Affordable Care Act that private health insurance plans must cover the full cost of birth control. As the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans take aim at the historic health care reform bill—and especially at its benefits for women’s health—this poll is a necessary reminder that the consensus on these issues is clear.

“As you may know,” the poll asked, “with the exception of certain religious objections, employers are now required to cover the cost of preventive services including prescription birth control in their health plans. In general, do you support or oppose the health care law’s requirement that private insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control?” They found that the majority of Democrats (81 percent) and independents (68 percent), as well as 54 percent of Republicans support the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit.

The June Kaiser Health Tracking Poll on women’s health also found that larger shares of the public oppose allowing employers to get an exemption from covering the full cost of prescription birth control for either religious or moral reasons. However, unlike the previous question, the results were more divided along party lines. Though a majority of Democrats oppose allowing employers to get exemptions for religious and/or moral reasons, more than half of Republicans support the same. Independents are more divided, but lean toward opposing these kinds of exemptions by a slight majority.

The results from the poll could not be more timely. As the Senate prepares to hold a vote on the so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act, a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a majority of U.S. citizens say they have an unfavorable view of the plan, and only three in ten have a favorable view. Within the past month, support for the replacement plan has decreased among Republicans from 67 to 56 percent and among supporters of President Trump from 69 to 55 percent.

Additionally, an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens, regardless of party affiliation, believe that repealing and replacing the 2010 Affordable Care Act should not be the “most important priority” for President Trump and Republicans in Congress—only 7 percent of Democrats, 9 percent of independents, and 8 percent of Republicans believe so. June 2017 is also the first month that support for the ACA has tipped over the 50 percent mark since Kaiser Family Foundation began tracking attitudes on the law in 2010. 74 percent of the public also say they have a favorable view of Medicaid, the government health and insurance and long-term care program for low-income adults and children.

If passed, the BCRA would weaken abortion and birth control access, give states the power to decide which “essential health benefits”—including maternity care, prescription drug coverage, preventive services such as cancer screenings and mental health care—would be covered by insurers, slash funding for Medicaid, ban federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and give insurers the ability to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions—including domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and women who undergo C-Sections during birth.

This most recent poll is just another example of how critical the gains of the Affordable Care Act really are—and how many Americans have felt the positive impacts of expanded, affordable health care access.

Micaela Brinsley is an Editorial Intern at Ms. and a rising sophomore at Smith College. Born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, she is a feminist theatre artist, activist and writer with a background in labor and tenants’ rights. Passionate about social justice, she is an avid conversationalist committed to making the world a more just and inclusive place. You can contact her at mbrinsley [at] msmagazine.com.

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