Trump vowed to repeal Obamacare. But is that what voters want?

A new poll shows that healthcare reform isn’t a priority among voters, who more often than not supported the basic tenets of the Affordable Care Act.

Jason Reed/Reuters/File
President Obama waves to an audience after signing the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, in 2010.

Republicans vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, if they won the presidency and retained control of Congress.

President-elect Donald Trump and his cabinet seem intent on doing just that, but the move may not be what voters want, a new poll shows.

According to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, which was conducted following the election last month, healthcare wasn’t the main factor when people cast their ballots: 31 percent said they made their decision based on the state of the nation, while 15 and 12 percent of respondents said they cast their ballots based on personal characteristics of Mr. Trump or his opponent Hillary Clinton, respectively. Another 15 percent cited the economy as the driving factor, while only eight percent said issues related to healthcare swayed the direction of their vote.

Additionally, a plurality of voters said they felt the law should either be expanded (30 percent) or continued as the current legislation (19 percent). Only 26 percent of those surveyed said they’d like to see the law repealed entirely, with 50 percent of Trump’s supporters falling into the group.

While Trump himself has softened his harsh rhetoric against the law since winning the election three weeks ago, His appointment of well-known ACA critic Rep. Tom Price (R) of Georgia to serve as the head of the Health and Human Services Department, is seen by some as moving in the direction of repealing the ACA.

"There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors; that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit," Dr. Price said in a statement about his appointment.

Price, who worked as an orthopedic surgeon for more than 20 years, favors a more privatized healthcare system and has advocated for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides reproductive and women’s health services, largely to low-income patients. He’s introduced an ACA alternative dubbed “A Better Way” in every session of Congress since the current law passed in 2010.

Trump has said recently that he supports certain provisions of the current law, such as a piece that bars insurers from denying applicants coverage based on a pre-existing condition and another that allows those under 26 to remain on their parents’ coverage.

Republican voters’ positions have also softened in turn, with the amount of voters saying they’d like to see the law repealed entirely dropping from 69 percent to 52 percent from October to November. For many, the extensive law has both merits and faults, making it difficult for people to throw their unwavering support behind it.

This isn’t necessarily a new pattern – for years, a majority of Americans have hailed the law’s expansion of coverage, but decried the piece of the legislation that requires Americans to purchase healthcare, Robert Blendon, an expert on public attitudes about healthcare at Harvard University, told the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s long been clear that what is driving opposition to the law are the mandates,” he said.

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