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Poll shows plurality in Kentucky still favors Obamacare, Chandler says numbers suggest opinion of la

Kentucky Health News Kentuckians remain divided about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but for the second straight year, more of them clearly favor it than oppose it, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll co-sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Taken Aug. 26 through Oct. 21, the poll found that 44 percent of Kentucky adults have a “generally favorable” opinion of the 2010 law, while 33 percent are “generally unfavorable” and the rest said they didn’t know.

“I feel like this suggests that the number has settled into a place where it will not move,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the foundation and a former congressman and state attorney general, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. (Chandler’s family owns the Sun.)

The numbers were the same as the poll taken in fall 2017, less than a year after its unofficial namesake and chief proponent, Barack Obama, ended his term as president. Since 2014, when “Obamacare” was fully implemented, Kentuckians’ opinion of it had been marginally unfavorable.

Only 56 percent of those polled said they knew enough about the law to understand how it would affect them personally, and 53 percent said it has had no effect on them or their families; 21 percent reported negative impacts and 18 percent reported positive impacts. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for each number.

The law remains politically controversial, and that was reflected in its reported impact in the poll. Among Democrats, 31 percent said it had positively affected them and their families, while only 11 percent of Republicans said that while 29 percent of them said it has had a negative affect. Only 9 percent of Democrats reported a negative affect.

Chandler told C-J political writer Phillip Bailey that Kentuckians have been affected mainly by the expansion of the Medicaid program to almost 500,000 people and changes in the market for individual health insurance, which affected fewer than 300,000. About 90,000 Kentuckians have health insurance policies that are subsidized by the law; the state has almost 4.5 million people.

Chandler, a Democrat, voted against the law as Sixth Congressional District representative. He told Bailey that it has suffered from “misinformation” for years, he doesn’t regret his vote. “I never thought it was a political winner, personally,” he said. “I think health care is too difficult to explain, and it’s too easy to frighten people with.”

Bailey writes, “Chandler, who was booted out of office in 2012, said the law hasn’t covered as many people as he would have liked and hasn’t cut costs to the extent he would have liked either. He described the health care law as ‘essentially the Republican free-market approach to coverage’ that didn’t do enough. The former congressman said that the law has also been too steep of a price for Democrats at the ballot box.”

Chandler said, “When it passed in 2010, the cost was so dramatic it has essentially cost, in my opinion, Democrats control of governments, both on the state and national level ever since. How many other laws could have been passed that would have been beneficial from a Democratic point of view that weren’t able to be done because of the controversy surrounding the Affordable Care Act?”

The poll asked these questions about the law:

“As you may know, a health-reform bill called the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010. Do you feel you have enough information about the health-reform law to understand how it will impact you personally, or not?”

“Overall, which of the following statements would you say best describes the impact of the health reform law on you and your family personally: The health-reform law has positively affected me and my family; the health-reform law has negatively affected me and my family; or the health-reform law has not had an impact on me and my family.”

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