As President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress this week began their effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a new poll shows that most Americans either don't want the health care law repealed, or prefer to delay killing the law until details of the GOP's substitute are revealed.
The survey, conducted by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Kaiser Family Foundation in mid-December, found that three-fourths of those polled either oppose repealing the law (47 percent), or want to wait to repeal it until details of the replacement law are firmed up (28 percent).
Just one in five Americans support immediately repealing and replacing President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Another 5 percent didn't have an opinion or declined to answer.
Even Republicans were divided over whether to repeal the law now or later. Thirty-eight percent of them said they wanted to repeal it now, while 42 percent of Republicans said they preferred to delay the repeal until it's clear what will replace it.
The poll results surprised Shana Charles, an assistant professor of health sciences at California State University, Fullerton.
"The media attention right now makes a connection that because this is what the Republicans want to do, therefore the people who voted for the Republican ticket must also want that as well," she said, "and this data shows that's not the case."
Charles noted that the 20 percent who want to immediately repeal the law, then work out the details of a replacement, "is certainly much smaller than the percent of the electorate who voted for Donald Trump."
Unlike a postelection poll released Dec. 1 by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation -- which showed most Americans want to keep the health care law rather than see it killed or dialed back -- the new survey is more closely timed to the debate Republicans began this week about how to dismantle the law.
Upending the law, commonly called "Obamacare,'' was among Trump's key campaign promises. He vowed to replace it with "something terrific.''
Twenty million Americans have gained health insurance through the law, many of them through a provision that expanded Medicaid, the nation's health care program for the poor.