Support for Health Care Spending Drops for Democrats, Republicans

Study finds that drop in support for health care spending is attributable to the Affordable Care Act, not the recession.

Study finds that drop in support for health care spending is attributable to the Affordable Care Act, not the recession.

The Affordable Care Act has waning support for health care spending from both republicans and democrats alike, according to a Johns Hopkins University study.

Before the passage of the law known as “Obamacare” in 2010, as many as 86% of democrats were in support of health care spending. Simultaneously, republicans and independents also had two-thirds support for increased health care spending.

However, after the law was enacted, republican support for increased spending dropped by 25% and support from democrats dropped by 12%. Meanwhile independent support dropped by 15%.

“One would expect strongly partisan responses to the passage of Obamacare,” sociologist Stephen L. Morgan said. “But the decline in support is from everyone. Our conclusion is that a conservative ‘cold front’ may have arrived in 2010, fueled by the passage of the ACA.”

Working with graduate student Minhyoung Kang, Morgan, the university’s Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Education, analyzed data from the 2004 to 2014 General Social Surveys. They focused on responses both before and after the passage of the law that indicated that “too little” is spent on the nation’s health care budget.

The researchers concluded that the decline in support for health care is not attributable to the Great Recession or to a lower thirst for spending in general. They found that democratic, republican and independent support dropped significantly more than for spending in other areas including environment, assistance for the poor, and scientific research.

Additionally, during the same time period, support for spending in space exploration and highways went up for all 3 parties. Morgan even found a 5-point decline in the percentage of democrats who feel that the federal government should help individuals pay doctor and hospital bills, with that decline mirrored among republicans and independents.

“Our interpretation is that attitudes toward spending on health are distinctly negative,” Morgan said. “It’s a disproportionately large drop for health care.”