WASHINGTON (AP) — Something new is happening in a health care debate dominated for seven years by the twists and turns of Barack Obama’s signature law. The focus has shifted to ideas from President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in Congress, and most people don’t like what they see.
With Republicans in command, their health care proposals as currently formulated have generated far more concern than enthusiasm.
Even among rank-and-file Republicans, there’s opposition to changes that would let insurers charge higher premiums to older adults, and many disapprove of cuts to Medicaid for low-income people, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It also found more than half of Republicans at least somewhat worried about leaving more people uninsured, as the House plan is projected to do.
March polls by Fox News and Quinnipiac University showed overall margins of opposition to the GOP proposal nearing or even exceeding those of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or ACA, at its lowest points — such as when the HealthCare.gov website opened for business in 2013 and promptly crashed.
‘‘Republicans are taking ownership of the health care issue, and all the pleasure and pain of health reform,’’ said Drew Altman, president of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a clearinghouse for information about the health care system. ‘‘There has been a shift in focus from the ACA itself to the Republican plans, and who might lose benefits as a result.’’
Highlighting the stakes, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults rose slightly in the first three months of this year, according to an update Monday of a major ongoing survey. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that 11.3 percent of adults were uninsured, an increase from 10.9 percent in the last two calendar quarters of 2016.
‘‘Only time will tell’’ if the uptick means the U.S. is again losing ground on health insurance, said survey director Dan Witters. ‘‘A lot…