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Only about 1 in 4 Americans want Trump to repeal Obamacare: Poll

While 52 per cent of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that share is down from 69 per cent just last month, before the election.

Alberto Abin walks out of the UniVista Insurance company office after shopping for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, on December 15, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

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Alberto Abin walks out of the UniVista Insurance company office after shopping for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, on December 15, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

WASHINGTON — Only about 1 in 4 people in the United States wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor's health care law that extended coverage to millions, according to a poll.

The postelection survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found hints of a pragmatic shift among some Republican foes of President Barack Obama's law.

While 52 per cent of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that share is down from 69 per cent just last month, before the election. More Republicans now say they want the law "scaled back" under Trump and the Republican-controlled, with that share more than doubling from 11 per cent before the Nov. 8 election to 24 per cent after.

Kaiser CEO Drew Altman said the foundation's polling experts aren't quite sure what to make of that finding. The organization is a clearinghouse for information and analysis about the health care system.

It could be that some Republicans "got a protest vote off their chests, and they're done with that," Altman said. "They now have a more moderate position."

Trump called the Affordable Care Act a "disaster" during an election campaign that saw big premium increases announced in its closing days. After the vote, Trump has been saying he'd like to keep parts of the law.

With open enrolment underway, no changes are expected next year for the more than 10 million people currently covered through HealthCare.gov and state markets that offer subsidized private insurance. An additional estimated 9 million low-income people covered by Medicaid in states that expanded the program are also safe for now.

HealthCare.gov sign-ups are running a little higher than last year — 2.1 million through last Saturday, as compared with about 2 million. But the share of new customers is down, 24 per cent this year versus 35 per cent last year at about the same time. The markets need an influx of younger, healthier consumers to help keep premiums in check.

On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders want to quickly repeal the law before an interlude and segue to a replacement. That approach carries political risk because the replacement legislation could bog down and there's no guarantee of success. The uncertainty could disrupt coverage for millions by destabilizing fragile insurance markets.

The poll found some skepticism about that approach. Forty-two per cent of those who want the 2010 law repealed said lawmakers should wait until they figure out the details of a replacement plan before doing so.

Overall, 30 per cent said the new president and Congress should expand what the law does, and 19 per cent said it should be implemented as is. On the other side, 26 per cent said the law should be entirely repealed and 17 per cent called for it to be scaled back.

Among Trump voters, 8 in 10 viewed the health care law unfavourably , and half wanted it entirely repealed.

As Republicans start to make changes in health care, potentially revamping Medicare and Medicaid as well, the politics of the issue could turn against them, Altman said. "They are going to go from casting stones to owning the problem," he said.

The poll found majorities across party lines support many of the health care law's provisions, but not its requirement that individuals have coverage or risk fines, and its mandate that medium-to-large employers pay fines if they don't offer health insurance.

Among the provisions with support across party lines:

—allowing young adults to stay on a parent's insurance until age 26.

—no copayments for many preventive services.

—closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole."

—financial help for low- and moderate-income people to pay their insurance premiums.

—a state option to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.

—barring insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person's medical history.

—increased Medicare payroll taxes for upper-income earners.

The telephone poll was conducted from Nov. 15-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial sample of 1,202 adults, including people reached by landlines and cellphones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.