New Jerseyans don't outright love the Affordable Care Act but they don't hate it either.
As Obamacare's first enrollment period officially closed last month, New Jerseyans are split on their opinions of the Affordable Care Act, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Thursday.
Some 26 percent of New Jersey residents say they fully support the ACA and 29 percent added that they somewhat support it, the poll found.
While 28 percent reported that they are strongly against the law, just 12 percent said they are somewhat opposed to it. For the ones against it, 24 percent of them believe the law "does not go far enough" in ensuring health care access for all, including 21 percent of independents and 14 percent of republicans. For the New Jerseyans that oppose the law, most of them (70 percent) they think it "goes too far" by involving the government in personal health care decisions.
"Polls examining support for Obamacare tend not to ask why opponents feel that way," poll director and Rutgers University professor David Redlawsk said. "When we do, we find that a substantial share of opponents want more, not less, from a government health care program. Only about 30 percent of all New Jersey residents actually object to the law because it goes too far, suggesting a strong base for the goals of Obamacare, even if for some the current law fails to reach those goals."
Supporters and opponents alike in New Jersey, however, aren't feeling it.
Most (71 percent) say the law hasn't made much of a difference, positively or negatively. Only 9 percent of New Jerseyans said the ACA has helped them so far and 17 percent say the law has been detrimental.
"Obamacare remains a polarizing law, even as most people say they've seen few effects from it so far," Redlawsk said. "Opposition is not tied to personal experience. Rather, it is clearly an ideological litmus test for many. Even though the law carries both benefits and costs, most New Jerseyans so far seem to think Obamacare has relatively little to do with them personally, even as they stake out a position on either side."
As for the March 31 Obamacare enrollment deadline, the poll found that most New Jerseyans (74 percent), including half of the ones strongly against the law, thought the deadline should have been extended to allow for more enrollment. Only 22 percent said the extension was unnecessary.
Views on the law are also heavily split along partisan lines with 84 percent of Democrats saying they support it to some degree and 79 percent of Republicans opposing it at some level.
For New Jersey residents who reported having no health insurance, the number has declined from 14 percent to 6 percent since January. Only 3 percent of the polls respondents said they utilized the online Health Care Exchange portal to buy insurance.
New Jersey also boasts a significant racial divide when it comes to supporting Obamacare. Nearly all black New Jerseyans are somewhat supportive of the law: 57 percent are strong supporters and 35 percent somewhat support it. In contrast, half of whites are against the act, with 35 percent of them strongly opposed. Only 19 percent strongly support it, while 27 percent are in-between.
"The widespread belief that the public does not want health care reform fails to account for the many opponents who are actually unhappy because Obamacare doesn't go far enough," said Redlawsk. "I suspect many supporters would also like to see more, but are willing to take what is available as a first step. Together, these two groups – opponents who want more and supporters of the current law – make up a broad-based majority of New Jersey residents."
Results are from a statewide poll conducted from March 31 to April 6 of 816 New Jersey adults with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.
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