Health care is high on the minds of voters in Georgia’s 6th congressional district, but most disapprove of the House GOP’s current proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare.
More than 80 percent of the 745 likely voters surveyed last week in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll listed health care as an “extremely important” or “very important” issue for them as they've determined whether to vote for Republican Karen Handel or Democrat Jon Ossoff in the upcoming special election.
The issue ranked high in the eyes of more voters than any other surveyed, including taxes, abortion and transportation. Government spending was second.
Specifically, the cost of health care was seen a top issue across every political party, race and age group polled: 94 percent of likely voters surveyed said they were “extremely concerned” or “very concerned” about the issue.
Sixth District voters held particularly negative opinions about the GOP proposal to overhaul Obamacare that narrowly passed the House last month. Only one in four of the likely voters surveyed, and one-half of Republicans, said they approved of the American Health Care Act. The disapproval rating is 7 percentage points higher than the national Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released late last month.
"I find it to be way too invasive," said Charles Neal, a 65-year-old Handel supporter from Cobb County of the House health care bill. It "puts people's privacy in the hands of bureaucrats."
The totals show the challenges in store for Senate Republicans as they continue to hash out their own Obamacare replacement proposal behind closed doors. Not only must they sell such a plan to each other, but a skeptical public.
Obamacare "makes sense for a lot of reasons," according to James Vaughn, a 52-year-old from DeKalb County who is backing Ossoff. "I realize it’s not perfect, but repealing it and replacing it with this atrocity the GOP came up with is not right."
Somewhat surprisingly, the House GOP proposal polled highest among likely Georgia voters of retirement age: 29 percent of the folks surveyed who were 65 and older supported the bill. While that voting bloc tends to lean toward the right, the American Health Care Act has been slammed by senior advocacy groups such as the AARP since it would allow insurers to charge older people higher monthly premiums.
As for Handel and Ossoff, the two are split on the House GOP proposal along predictably partisan lines. Handel said she's "committed to working toward a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare that works for all Americans," while Ossoff said the House plan "puts Georgians’ lives at risk."
Marlene Weingart is a 62-year-old Handel supporter from Fulton County. She said she hopes Senate Republican leaders will be able to find enough support to pass the proposal.
"Healthcare is not a right or the job of the government," she said. "Obamacare should be repealed and they need to simplify the healthcare system."
The survey was conducted June 5-8 by ABT Associates and involved 1,000 registered voters. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.