The Truth-O-Meter Says:

"A small majority of Americans don’t think they like the Affordable Care Act, but a large majority of Americans don’t want to do away with the protections that are in the Affordable Care Act."

Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 in a keynote speech

Hillary Clinton says people don't like health care law, but like its individual components

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn’t saying yet whether she’s running for president in 2016 -- "I am somebody who has to really mull things over because there is a cost to everything," she said on May 6, 2014.

Even so, Clinton remains very much in the public eye, including a May 6 keynote address to the National Council for Behavioral Health.

In her remarks, Clinton voiced support for the Affordable Care Act and offered a nuanced take on the polling numbers.

"There have been many complaints and concerns about the Affordable Care Act, but I’ve been struck by the polling I’ve been reading, because it tells the same story," she said. "A small majority of Americans don’t think they like the Affordable Care Act, but a large majority of Americans don’t want to do away with the protections that are in the Affordable Care Act. A small majority wants to repeal it, but that is slowly receding as a rising majority says, ‘No, fix it.’ This is the tradition of good, old-fashioned American pragmatism."

We recently fact-checked Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on the public’s support for repeal, which appears to have remained stable in recent months. And recent Kaiser Family Foundation polling shows that from March to April, the percentage of people who said they want improvements to the law jumped from 49 to 58.

But what about Clinton’s claim that most Americans want to keep Affordable Care Act protections, even if they don’t like the law itself? Clinton didn’t return our request for comment, but we found her analysis to be on target.

According to RealClearPolitics, a political news and commentary site that aggregates polls, an average of five polls found that 52.3 percent of voters expressed opposition to the health care law. That’s a small majority, just as Clinton said. Other surveys record smaller percentages, in the 35 percent to 45 percent range.

What about her argument that Americans like specific protections in the law, even as they oppose the law as a whole?

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s March 2014 report breaks down how voters feel about different components of the Affordable Care Act.

A majority of Republicans, Democrats and independents favored 7 of the 11 elements Kaiser asked about in March. They are:

  • Tax credits to small businesses to buy insurance: 88 percent support

  • Close the Medicare "doughnut hole": 81 percent support

  • Create health insurance exchanges: 80 percent support

  • Extend dependent coverage: 76 percent support

  • Subsidy assistance to individuals: 76 percent support

  • Guaranteed issue of insurance policies: 66 percent support

  • Penalties for insurers who spend too little on medical care: 65 percent support

On an additional three elements of the law, a majority of Americans expressed support, but only a minority of Republicans:

  • Medicaid expansion: 71 percent

  • An increase in the Medicare payroll tax for upper income earners: 60 percent

  • The employer mandate: 57 percent

So on 10 of the 11 elements, substantial majorities of Americans expressed support, justifying Clinton’s claim that "a large majority of Americans" support individual elements of the law.

But there was one exception: The individual mandate, one of the cornerstones of the law. It attracted the support of only 40 percent of Americans -- 55 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans.

Our ruling

Clinton said, "A small majority of Americans don’t think they like the Affordable Care Act, but a large majority of Americans don’t want to do away with the protections that are in the Affordable Care Act."

An average of recent polls shows that just over 50 percent of Americans favor repealing the law. And a recent Kaiser study shows that "large majorities" of Americans favor 10 of the 11 elements of the law the pollsters asked about. However, Americans do oppose one crucial element of the law -- the individual mandate. That's something Clinton's comment glosses over, so we rate her claim Mostly True.

About this statement:

Published: Wednesday, May 7th, 2014 at 5:29 p.m.

Subjects: Health Care, Polls and Public Opinion


Kaiser Family Foundation, "Kaiser health tracking poll: April 2014," April 29, 2014

Kaiser Family Foundation, "Kaiser health tracking poll: March 2014," March 20, 2014

Politico, "Hillary Clinton pushes gun control, Obamacare," May 6, 2014

PolitiFact, "Marco Rubio said Americans increasingly want health law repealed," March 25, 2014

PolitiFact, "Obamacare ‘has never been favored by a majority of Americans,’ Gingrich says," Sept. 26, 2013

Real Clear Politics, "Repeal of the health care law: favor/oppose," accessed May 7, 2014

Written by: Julie Kliegman
Researched by: Julie Kliegman
Edited by: Louis Jacobson

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