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GOP Health Care Plan Most Unpopular Bill In Decades

| by Robert Fowler
The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of KentuckyThe Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Polling indicates that the GOP's proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act is the least popular piece of legislation in nearly three decades. The Senate majority leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has suggested that his party members may have to cooperate with their Democratic colleagues on health care if the current bill fails to pass his chamber.

On July 7, MIT associate professor of political science Chris Warshaw found that the Republicans' American Health Care Act, which passed the House on May 4, was the most unpopular high-profile legislation in decades after aggregating polling data collected since 1990 from the Roper Center, Axios reports.

Warshaw found that the AHCA has an average approval rating of 28 percent, making it more unpopular than other controversial bills by double digits.

For comparison, the ACA had an average approval rating of 44 percent between July 2009 and November 2009. The Troubled Asset Relief Program bill, which bailed out big banks during the subprime mortgage crisis, had an average approval rating of 41 percent between September 2008 and November 2008.

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Going back even further, the AHCA is even more unpopular than former President Bill Clinton's health care plan, the previous record-holder for the most controversial legislation since 1990. Between June 1994 and August 1994, Clinton's health care proposal had an average approval rating of 40 percent. It never received a vote in Congress.

The Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate iteration of the GOP plan to repeal and replace the ACA, has suffered its own share of dismal polling.

On June 28, a USA Today/Suffolk University survey found that only 12 percent of national adults supported the BCRA. At the same time, 53 percent of respondents said they would prefer that the GOP majority in Congress keep the ACA in place and work to improve it, USA Today reports.

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On June 26, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the BCRA's implementation would result in 22 million fewer Americans having access to health insurance by 2026 than if the ACA was kept intact. The legislation would also reduce the federal deficit by $321 billion during the same timeframe, according to The New York Times.

McConnell delayed a vote on the BCRA until after the chamber's July 4 recess, aiming to convince wavering Republicans to rally around the bill during the interim.

On July 6, McConnell stated that if the GOP replacement plan could not muster the votes, his party would have to collaborate with Democrats to shore up the ACA's insurance markets, the Washington Post reports.

"If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur," McConnell said during an event in Glasgow, Kentucky. "No action is not an alternative."

The Senate minority leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, issued a statement asserting that his party was "eager to work with Republicans to stabilize the markets and improve the [ACA]."

Sources: Axios, USA TodayThe New York Times, Washington Post / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2), Agilemktg1/Flickr

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