Republicans prep health care battle; Americans split on the issue

Rachel Rose Hartman
President Obama signs the health care bill into law.
President Obama signs the health care bill into law.

Flush from last week's election triumphs, Republicans are preparing at all levels of government to fight for repeal of the president's health care law.

Members of Congress are gaming out the best ways to achieve rollbacks or repeal of the Affordable Care Act, signed in March. Meanwhile, recently elected Republican governors and state legislators are planning how to push back against the measure's implementation.

However, polls on the issue suggest that Americans aren't necessarily lining up behind an aggressive repeal effort.

A USA Today/Gallup poll found that 42 percent of Americans believe the health care law goes too far. And a new AP-Gfk poll indicates that 39 percent want the law repealed or scaled back, whereas 58 percent prefer the law be left alone--or for Congress to enact additional health care measures.

A majority, or 56 percent, of midterm voters said they would like to see the health care law "repealed entirely or in part," according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey taken in the days after the Nov. 2 election. More Republican voters than Democrats endorse that view: Two-thirds of respondents who voted for Democrats want the law expanded or left as is; 8 in 10 of those who voted Republican support full or partial repeal.

Republicans at the state level made significant gains last week, taking control of at least five gubernatorial seats and of both chambers in about a dozen legislatures. With more Republicans in office, state-level pushbacks against what critics have dubbed Obamacare will probably proliferate. Several state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit arguing it is unconstitutional to require Americans to have health insurance. Some Republican governors, such as Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty and Alaska's Sean Parnell, have directed state officials to refuse to apply for federal grants related to the health care program.

Meanwhile, federal funding for the law has come under fresh attack in Congress, where Republicans gained at least six Senate seats and 60 House seats. A full repeal of the health care law is likely to be proposed in the House, when Republicans assume control in January, but that measure would be a tough sell in the Senate. And even if the Senate were to endorse a repeal measure, President Obama has already vowed to repeal any legislative bid to roll back the law.

(Photo of President Obama signing the health care bill into law: AP/Charles Dharapak)