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Poll: Health Care Law Lacks Support But So Does Status Quo

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans are equally dissatisfied with the current health care system and with the federal law intended to improve it, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.  That suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on that law will by no means end the country’s sharp political debate over health care policy.

Just 36 percent of those surveyed in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, express a favorable opinion of the health care law under Supreme Court review.  But ratings of the health care system as it currently stands are about as weak -- 39 percent favorable.  That means that while the intended fix is unpopular, so is the status quo, leaving the public still in search of solutions.

One key challenge is that while Americans are broadly dissatisfied with the system overall, vastly more -- 75 percent -- rate their own quality of care favorably.  The difficulty thus remains where it’s been all along: Forging solutions to the current system’s problems that don’t leave people fearing they’ll lose what many see as their own good quality of care now.

The high court’s ruling on the health care law -- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as the ACA -- is expected on Thursday.  While the law’s popularity is weak, barely more than half, 52 percent, see it unfavorably, including 38 percent who have a “strongly” unfavorable opinion. With key provisions yet to take effect, 12 percent are undecided.

Other polling has indicated that a variety of aspects of the ACA are broadly popular -- but these are outweighed by the unpopularity of the so-called individual mandate, requiring nearly all adults to purchase insurance or pay a fine.

Another difficulty for proponents of the ACA is that dissatisfaction with the health care system now, or with current care, doesn’t boost support for the new law.  Among people who rate the current system unfavorably, just 35 percent have a favorable opinion of the ACA.  And among those who give a negative review to their own care, the ACA’s popular with just 32 percent.

Still, while the ACA is not popular, an ABC/Post poll in May found weak support for Mitt Romney’s call to repeal it -- a 40-40 percent division in favorable vs. unfavorable views.  And in another measure, in April, just 38 percent said the Supreme Court should reject the law in its entirety.  Twenty-five percent wanted it entirely upheld; 29 percent said it should be upheld in part, rejected in part.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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