Key Findings from the January 2012 Kaiser Family

Foundation Health Tracking Poll:

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear legal challenges to the health reform law
in March, most Americans expect the Justices to base their ruling on their own
ideological views rather than their interpretation of the law, according to the
Foundation’s January Health Tracking Poll which probes the public’s views and
expectations about the Supreme Court case. The full question wording and
findings of the poll can be viewed online at

Key findings include:

* The public doubts the Supreme Court renders judgments based solely on the
law. Three-quarters (75%) say they think that, in general, Justices let their
own ideological views influence their decisions while 17 percent say they
usually decide cases based on legal analysis without regard to politics and
ideology. Similarly, when asked specifically about the challenge to the
individual mandate in the health reform law, six in ten (59%) Americans say
they expect the Justices will take their own ideological views into account,
while 28 percent think their decision will be based purely on legal analysis
and interpretation.

* As for the public’s own views of the mandate, the January poll shows that the
requirement that everyone obtain health insurance or pay a fine continues to be
unpopular. This month’s poll finds the public more than twice as likely to have
an unfavorable rather than favorable view of the provision (67% to 30%), very
much in line with findings of previous Kaiser polls. Reflecting this dislike
for a mandate, 54 percent of Americans say the Court should rule the individual
mandate unconstitutional, while just 17 percent say they think it should be
found constitutional. Roughly mirroring public views on the mandate, 55 percent
of the public say they expect the Justices to find the mandate unconstitutional
and 29 percent expect the Justices to find it constitutional.

* The public does not expect the entire law to go away if the Supreme Court
rules against the mandate. A majority (55%) of the public believes that parts
of the health reform law will still be implemented even if the Court strikes
down the individual mandate, while three in ten (30%) think a ruling against
the mandate effectively will mean the end of the entire law.

* As the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches on March 23,
Americans remain as divided on the law as ever, with 37 percent in January
saying they have a favorable view of it, and 44 percent having an unfavorable
view. At the same time, the share of the public that favors expanding the law
(31%) or keeping it in its current form (19%) remains larger than the share who
would like to see the law repealed outright (22%) or repealed and replaced with
a Republican-backed alternative (18%).

* As the race for the Republican presidential nomination heats up, the latest
tracking poll shows that attempts by rival GOP contenders to paint former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as holding views on health policy similar to
those of President Obama do not seem to be resonating with most Republicans.
Despite repeated reminders that Romney signed a 2006 Massachusetts law that is
similar in some respects to the national health reform law, nearly half of
Republicans (49%) say the two men’s views are different, three in ten say they
are similar, and another 22 percent had no opinion.

The full question wording and findings of the poll can be viewed online at

For more information, contact Rakesh Singh at (650) 854-9400 or or Chris Lee at (202) 347-5270

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health policy analysis, health
journalism and communication, is dedicated to filling the need for trusted,
independent information on the major health issues facing our nation and its
people.  The Foundation is a non-profit private operating foundation,
based in Menlo Park, California.