Obamacare Popularity at Highest in Nearly 7 Years as Talk of Repeal and Replace Mounts

Publicity surrounding the Affordable Care Act’s benefits may be meeting supporters’ goals. More people view the health law favorably than at any point in nearly seven years.

That’s the main finding of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey out Friday of 1,160 people last week that shows the Affordable Care Act is as popular as it’s been since the summer of 2010.

The percent of people with favorable views of the law increased from 43% in December to 48% now. People are still split on whether to repeal the law or not — though far fewer want repeal without details of a replacement plan.

“It’s not surprising that as Democrats have gone on the offense about the benefits of the law for people, support for the law has gone up,” says Paul Howard, director of health policy at the free market Manhattan Institute.

More than 1,160 adults were polled Feb. 13-19 for the survey,which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A lack of clarity over what the law would be replaced with if repealed strengthens attachment to the ACA, says Howard. Republican infighting weakens support for the repeal effort and supporters of the law have made “effective use of town halls” in congressional districts, he added.

“The devil you know is more popular than the devil you don’t,” says Howard.

While Democrats and Republicans’ opinions of the law haven’t changed much, independents seem to have grown more positive about the ACA, says Liz Hamel, Kaiser Family Foundation’s director of public opinion and survey research.

“They’re most likely reacting to what they’re hearing in the news and the fact that more of the public discussion of late is about what people stand to lose if it is repealed,” says Hamel.

The new findings come as insurers and consumers are trying to figure out what to make of Internal Revenue Service guidance on how it would treat tax returns that that appeared to suggest taxpayers without health insurance won’t face penalties at tax time.

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