SACRAMENTO — Californians twice voted overwhelmingly for President Barack Obama, but they are split on his most important domestic policy achievement – health care reform.
A Public Policy Institute of California survey released Wednesday finds that just 44 percent of Californians favor Obama’s Affordable Care Act, while the same percentage has an unfavorable opinion.
In better news for the new law, two-thirds of uninsured residents say they plan to get insurance by next year now that it is more available to them, while nearly a quarter said they would opt to remain without health insurance.
At the same time, Obama’s job approval rating has taken a hit, with 51 percent of Californians approving. That matches a record low from two years ago and is down 10 points from last summer.
The survey was conducted the month after the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces went live on Oct. 1, a disastrous rollout for the federal exchange that serves 36 states. The president also had to backpedal after it was discovered that he could not keep his oft-repeated promise that those who liked their current insurance policies could keep them.
An Associated Press tally showed that insurance companies were discontinuing individual policies for at least 4.2 million Americans because they did not meet the higher requirements of Obama’s health reform law.
Some states have since followed the president’s suggestion to allow insurers to maintain those policies for another year. California, which runs its own health insurance exchange, is not among them.
It’s not clear how much of a role the heath care reforms have played in Obama’s declining approval ratings. The poll shows his popularity was dipping even before the exchanges began operating.
The Public Policy Institute survey interviewed 1,700 adults by telephone from Nov. 12-19 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
In other findings, the survey found that 57 percent of Californians believe the country is headed in the wrong direction and that more people are pessimistic about the direction of the economy over the next 12 months than are optimistic.
Two-thirds of Californians said they believe the state is divided into haves and have-nots, a percentage that generally held among all income levels. Blacks and Latinos were most likely to feel that way.