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A new poll shows voters in deep-red states don't like the AHCA

As GOP senators draft their version of the American Health Care Act, it’s becoming clear that the majority of the country is opposed to what the Republican party has planned.

According to a new survey from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, 63 percent of those surveyed in deep-red districts dislike the House-proposed AHCA legislation and 67 percent of all those surveyed (Democrats, Republicans and Independents) oppose the key provisions of the bill outright.

The survey — which included a national sample of more than 2,400 registered voters — consisted of a questionnaire breaking the proposed law down into significant issue areas and separated participants out in a breakdown of congressional districts ranging from very red to very blue, and also accounted for party registration (Republican, Democrat, and independent).

The results don’t look good for the Republican party, which has spent significant legislative effort so far this year attempting to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senate Republicans, in particular, would be wise to heed the study results as they continue to develop their own repeal and replace bill. Many have faced immense public outcry in the past few months from their constituents for refusing to hold town halls and generally shutting out requests from their constituents to speak face to face.

The survey was conducted from June 8 to June 13, a period of time in which the Senate was widely reported to be working on its bill in secret without any public hearings. Despite having only minimal access to Senate negotiations, reports have suggested so far that the Senate bill is shaping up to closely resemble the House bill — which likely means it will be just as unpopular as the House version.

According to the UMD researchers, there has been very little data collected on the public opinion of the individual provisions of the AHCA because most polls and studies have asked about the bill as a whole. They also noted in the study’s introduction that they avoided overtly partisan language, which they feared could skew their results:

In developing this survey, the objective was to go beyond partisan responses and to have respondents engage more directly with the policy issues. Thus, care was taken to avoid offering partisan triggers. The AHCA was simply described as a “proposed law” under consideration, as compared to “current law.”

Here’s a breakdown of the key provisions covered in the survey and how responders felt about them:

80 percent of survey respondents opposed higher premium rates for older individuals. This provision would let insurance companies charge older individuals five times more than younger people. (The Affordable Care Act limited it to three times the rate.) The least popular provision of the bill, the survey’s authors noted that these results were “strikingly unanimous.” Sixty-six percent of Republicans surveyed opposed, 94 percent of Democrats opposed, and 81 percent of independents opposed the provision.

More than 77 percent of those surveyed opposed waivers for insurance companies with regard to covering preexisting conditions. Survey responders largely opposed the provision that would allow states to give waivers to insurance companies, enabling them to deny coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions or charge them higher rates for it. Sixty percent of Republicans oppose this provision, as do 93 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of independents.

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed oppose the provision preventing Medicaid benefits from being used at Planned Parenthood clinics. Broken down by party affiliation, this reflects the views of 36 percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, and 69 percent of independents.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed oppose the AHCA plan to revoke essential benefits. This provision would enable states to allow insurance companies to offer plans that do not include basic benefits required under the ACA — like pregnancy and maternity care, mental health and addiction treatment, and lab tests — thus creating lower-cost plans for consumers. Forty-two percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats, and 60 percent of independents oppose the provision.

Sixty-five percent of those surveyed oppose the AHCA’s proposed cancellation of the employer mandate. The mandate requires that employers with more than 50 employees provide health care insurance to their workers. Forty-one percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats, and 62 percent of independents oppose this provision.

Sixty percent of survey respondents oppose the overall AHCA plan for low-income populations. The survey found that a majority of surveyed Americans are against:

  • Reduction in Medicaid spending — 55 percent consider it “unacceptable.” That reflects 26 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats, and 54 percent of independents.
  • Repealing Medicaid expansion — 53 percent consider it “unacceptable,” reflecting 24 percent of Republicans, 78 percent of Democrats, and 49 percent of independents.
  • Repeal of the taxes on people earning upward of $200,000 a year ($250,000 for couples), which helps lower premiums for low-income individuals under the current ACA plan. (Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents consider it “unacceptable”: 27 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats, and 56 percent of Independents.)

The survey also questioned participant’s opinions of the low-income plan under the current ACA system. They found that half of Republicans surveyed find the ACA plan “acceptable” and two-thirds find it at least “tolerable.”

Fifty-five percent of survey respondents oppose replacing the individual mandate with a Renewal penalty. This is a proposal to replace the ACA’s individual mandate with a penalty for forgoing insurance. Tellingly, this provision technically received the highest level of overall support — only 55 percent of those surveyed opposed it.

Correction: A previous version of this article said 63 percent of Republicans in deep-red districts dislike the House proposed AHCA. It’s actually 63 percent of all those surveyed in deep-red districts.