Politics

September 30, 2012

Health Care: Reform law supported in Maine

A poll finds a majority like Obamacare and oppose its repeal, which diverges from U.S. survey results.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Mainers are much more supportive of President Obama's health care reform law than most Americans are, according to the latest statewide poll by Critical Insights.

Asked whether the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama- care, will be good or bad for the country, 47 percent said good and 38 percent said bad.

That is the opposite view of Americans in general, who say the law will be bad, 51 percent to 37 percent, according to a Rasmussen poll during the same week in mid-September.

The same is true when voters are asked if they support repeal of the law.

In Maine, voters said they oppose repeal 55 percent to 39 percent, according to the Critical Insights poll.

Nationwide, voters support repeal 53 percent to 43 percent.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act includes a sweeping set of reforms aimed at reducing the number of uninsured Americans. A core piece of the law, and the most controversial, is a requirement that most uninsured Americans buy health insurance through government-run exchanges starting in 2014. The exchanges will provide subsidies to help qualified people pay for the coverage.

Terri Anthoine, a 54-year-old Democrat from Windham, said she has mixed feelings about the law. She doesn't like a government requirement that people buy insurance.

On the other hand, she said, "(the law) is helping my son, who's 25, to stay on my insurance."

Kathy Hodge, a 33-year-old Republican from Lebanon, said the law was pushed through Congress too fast and is too expensive. "I'm very convervative as far as spending goes," she said.

Jeffrey Hilton, a 49-year-old Republican from Auburn, said people with pre-existing illnesses can now get insurance thanks to the law, and that's a good thing.

"It would be a waste of time trying to repeal Obamacare," he said, "I think there's a lot of good parts."

Maine's overall support for the law partly reflects the state's strong backing for Obama. Eighty-four percent of Obama supporters in Maine support the law, the poll says. On the other hand, 86 percent of Romney supporters said they think it will be bad for the country.

Despite the state's support, Maine was one of the 26 states that sued the Obama administration to overturn the law as unconstitutional. That challenge led to the Supreme Court decision upholding the law in June.

Gov. Paul LePage, who supported the legal challenge, has so far not said whether he will join other Republican governors and refuse to expand Medicaid in 2014, even though the law provides extra federal funding.

Among Maine's candidates for national office, support for the law falls cleanly along partisan lines.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Summers and Republican U.S. House candidates Jon Courtney and Kevin Raye all favor repeal of the law.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Dill and U.S. House incumbents Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud support the law.

Former Gov. Angus King, the independent front-runner in the Senate race, supports the law. 

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

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