Negative views of the Affordable Care Act have reached an all-time high, bucking several months of gradual increases in the popularity of the law.


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Majority of Americans take a dim view of ACA

August 25th, 2014

WASHINGTON – Negative views of the Affordable Care Act have reached an all-time high, bucking several months of gradual increases in the popularity of the law.

Fifty-three percent of adult Americans now see the Affordable Care Act in a negative light compared with 45% in June, according to a monthly tracking poll by the Kaiser Family ­Foundation.

The marked change in public support of the ACA appears to be among those who previously did not have an opinion on the law or who refused to express it but now see the measure unfavorably.

Supporters stress that some people who oppose the law feel it did not go far enough.

The poll did not provide definitive answers for the change, but noted that people reported that their informal discussion among friends and family was more than four times as likely to be negative as supportive toward the law.

On one specific ACA issue, public opinion was evenly divided on the Supreme Court’s decision that closely held companies such as the Hobby Lobby craft stores could refuse to provide workers with birth control through their insurance because it violated the religious beliefs of the company.

“Women and men also saw things pretty much the same,” a Kaiser statement said. “Seven of 10 Republicans hailed the decision, and Democrats disliked it just as strongly. The public was split about whether the decision will make it harder for women to get prescription birth control.”

The poll noted, as prior foundation polls have, that much of the public does not know how major parts of the Affordable Care Act work. Fewer than four in 10 knew that people obtaining health insurance through the law had a choice among private plans, even though most areas of the country have multiple insurers offering competing policies.

Meanwhile, federal health officials are warning hundreds of thousands of people who have bought health plans through the federal insurance exchange that their coverage will be cut off unless they quickly provide proof that their citizenship or immigration status makes them eligible to be insured through the new marketplace.

The warnings, in letters that were mailed to 310,000 people in the three-dozen states that rely on the exchange, give the recipients until September 5 to send copies of green cards, citizenship documents or other information showing that they qualify for the coverage. If they miss the deadline, their coverage will end on September 30.

The move is one of the first steps that the administration has taken to hold consumers accountable when information on their applications conflicts with records on file at federal agencies or is missing altogether.

The action will affect only people with lingering eligibility issues involving their citizenship or immigration status.

“The Affordable Care Act is working to make quality health care more affordable and accessible for families,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Over the last several weeks the Marketplace has reminded affected enrollees via mail, e-mail and phone to send in their supporting documents so they can keep their coverage, and insurance companies have reached out directly to these customers as well.

“The good news is that many have responded — we’ve closed about 450,000 of these cases and have an additional 210,000 cases in progress. However, some still have not responded. We want as many consumers as possible to remain enrolled in Marketplace coverage, so we are giving these individuals a last chance to submit their documents before their coverage through the Marketplace will end.”

Relatedly, nearly 90% of the nation’s 30 million uninsured won’t pay a penalty under the ACA in 2016 because of a growing batch of exemptions to the health coverage requirement, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The Obama administration has identified more than a dozen ways in which the fine can be avoided.

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