New polling indicates that a majority of Americans want President Donald Trump and Congress to pass legislation to improve the Affordable Care Act instead of repealing it. The data arrived after Trump took executive actions to roll back the ACA, causing Democrats and health care experts to warn that Trump's moves could destabilize insurance markets.
On Oct. 13, the monthly Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that 66 percent of national adults said the GOP-majority Congress should pass bills that would stabilize the ACA marketplaces, while 29 percent wanted Republican lawmakers to continue their efforts to repeal the health care law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In more specific poll findings, 85 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents wanted Congress to improve the ACA instead of replace it. On the GOP side, 51 percent of Republicans wanted lawmakers to repeal the law while 43 percent said Congress should focus on improving it.
While a majority of Americans wanted the Trump administration and Congress to work together to improve the ACA, they were also skeptical that such teamwork would happen. The poll found that 30 percent of respondents were very or somewhat confident that Trump and Congress could work together to bolster insurance markets, while 70 percent were not too or at all confident.
On Oct. 12, Trump signed an executive action ordering federal agencies to explore ways to roll back key ACA regulations. The directive aimed to make it easier for insurance companies to sell cheap short-term plans that offered less coverage and for small business to join together and purchase health insurance as an association, The New York Times reports.
Health care experts warned that these changes could cause healthy people to swarm to insurance options that cost less for minimal coverage, resulting in premium increases for patients with pre-existing conditions in the ACA markets.
Trump also announced that he would discontinue federal cost-sharing subsidies meant to reimburse insurance companies that help cover low-income patients' out of pocket costs.
"The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding," Trump tweeted on Oct. 13. "Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies has stopped. Dems should call me to fix!"
The Senate and House minority leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, released a joint statement accusing Trump of sabotaging the health care markets in an attempt to undermine the ACA.
"It is a spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage ... President Trump has apparently decided to punish the American people for his inability to improve our healthcare system," the statement read, according to Business Insider.
The Kaiser poll found that 19 percent of Americans believed that Trump's actions were helping the health care markets while 34 percent said the president's action had not made much impact. An even 40 percent of respondents said that Trump was actively hurting the insurance markets.
Furthermore, 60 percent of respondents said they wanted Congress to pass legislation that would guarantee cost-sharing federal subsidies to insurance companies to keep low-income patients' costs low. A majority of Democrats and independents supported continuing the payments, while 55 percent of Republicans wanted them to stop because they viewed them as a bailout to insurance companies.