Poll Shows ACA Enjoys Robust Support Among Californians

Poll Shows ACA Enjoys Robust Support Among Californians

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SAN FRANCISCO – Support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now under threat of being dismantled by the U.S. Congress, has always been strong in the Golden State but never stronger than it is now, according to a statewide poll released yesterday.

Supporters of Pres. Obama’s 2010 health care reform law outnumber those who oppose it by a two-to-one margin -- 65 percent to 26 percent -- a Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) poll reveals.

In California, “support for the law has always been on the positive side,” observed pollster Mark DiCamillo, formerly with The Field Poll, citing a 2015 survey funded by the California Wellness Foundation, when the ACA enjoyed a 52 percent support.

The recent IGS poll, funded by the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), was done in six languages -- English, Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese and Korean – and a random sampling of 1,628 adults were interviewed either on their cell phones or their landlines, with an oversampling of Central Valley residents: 300 adults.

Support for the law was greatest among Latinos (72 percent) and African Americans (80 percent). Only 65 percent of Asian Americans backed the law. DiCamillo said they couldn’t tease out the percentage of how different Asian groups felt because of the small number of those polled -- 197.

“We couldn’t sub-divide them with any stability,” he said.

Because Medi-Cal (the state’s name for Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income people) directly affects the majority of California residents, a robust 69 percent of those polled described the public health program as important to themselves and their families. An even larger majority, 88 percent, said the program was important to the state.

“At a time when our society is so polarized, Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree on the value of Medi-Cal to California,” said Sandra R. Hernandez, president and chief executive officer of CHCF in a press release. “Policymakers in Washington may not understand how vital Medi-Cal is, but Californians certainly do.”

The widespread impact of cutting federal spending on Medicaid would have adverse economic effects nationwide, said a study released yesterday by the Commonwealth Fund. By 2026, nearly a million jobs would be lost, about three-quarters of them in the health sector, the study suggests. 

Impacted will be communities that have safety net hospitals where a vast majority of people on Medicaid go.

“If they go bad, the neighborhood goes bad,” observed Allen Dobson, a panelist at the teleconference sponsored by the Commonwealth Fund.

The CHCF study shows the residents living in such major regions of the state as Los Angeles County, San Francisco Bay Area and the Inland Empire acknowledged they were worried if the ACA were repealed and replaced, with Latinos and African Americans being the most concerned.

Part 2 of that study, released today, focused on how widespread was the support by Californians for insurance coverage for mental health and drug addiction treatment. Under the Affordable Care Act, for the first time ever, insurance companies were required to provide coverage for those issues, but the replacement plan crafted by Republicans could drastically cut that coverage.

Three in four Californians believe that insurers should continue covering treatment for mental health conditions, as well as alcohol or drug use problems. The groups most inclined to say this are African Americans, registered Democrats, women, Latinos and people on Medi-Cal.

“While Congress is debating changes and cuts to health insurance programs, the people of California are clear that they value coverage for mental health and substance use disorders,” said Catherine Teare, an associate director with CHCF in a press release, noting: “This is something that conservatives and liberals can agree on in this state.”