Poll: Americans Oppose ACA Penalty, Whether Labeled as ‘Tax’ or ‘Fine’
Most U.S. residents oppose the financial penalty associated with the health reform law's individual mandate, regardless of whether it was described as a "tax" or a "fine," according to the latest health tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports (Rau, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/31).
In its 5-4 ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act last month, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the law's requirement that most residents must purchase health insurance by 2014, or pay a penalty. However the majority opinion -- by Chief Justice John Roberts -- stated that the "financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax."
Roberts added, "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," adding, "Simply put, Congress may tax and spend. ... The federal government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid or otherwise control" (California Healthline, 7/2).
According to the poll of 1,227 adults conducted between July 17 and July 23, 61% of respondents opposed the financial penalty when it was described as a tax and 66% opposed it when it was described as a fine.
Respondents also seemed to have "exaggerated" impressions about whether they would be required to pay the penalty, according to "Capsules." The poll found that nearly one in five respondents believes that they will face the penalty in 2014.
However KFF researchers have estimated that one in 10 individuals will be in a position to decide whether to purchase insurance or pay the penalty ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/31).
Meanwhile, researchers at the Urban Institute have estimated that about 6% of the population, or about 18.6 million residents, would be faced with the decision to obtain coverage or pay the penalty (Kliff, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 7/31).
Meanwhile, the tracking poll found that overall favorability of the federal health reform law remains split, with 44% of respondents expressing an unfavorable view of the law and 38% having a favorable view ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 7/31). One in five respondents noted that they have not made up their mind about their opinion on the overhaul, while another 26% said they could change their minds (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 7/31).
In addition, the poll found that 55% of self-identified independent voters disagree with efforts to block funding for the implementation of the law, and 56% of independents said they are "tired of hearing lawmakers debate the health care law and would like them to move on to other issues" (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/31).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.