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Aaron Sharockman
By Aaron Sharockman May 5, 2011

Democratic state Rep. Joe Gibbons says Floridians don't favor health care repeal

A proposed constitutional amendment that takes aim at the new federal health care law passed the Florida House of Representatives 80-37 on May 4, 2011.

The measure, SJR 2, prohibits laws that force people to buy health insurance and was a top priority of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who is running for the U.S. Senate. The Florida Senate voted earlier in the legislative session to put the amendment on the November 2012 ballot -- assuming it survives any court challenges.

While it's unlikely the amendment could trump the impact of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the proposed change is seen as a straw poll on the popularity of the health care law. Democratic Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, argued against the amendment, saying that it goes against the wishes of the majority of Floridians.

"Polls show that Floridians don't want to repeal the Affordable Care Act," Gibbons said shortly before the amendment passed.

We wanted to know how Floridians feel about the health care law.

While there are dozens of polls about the popularity of the federal health care law on the national level, state-level polling data is more difficult to come by. The most recent Florida polls come from Quinnipiac University, a nonpartisan polling group. It surveyed 1,499 registered voters from March 29-April 4 and asked two questions about the federal health care law.

When asked, "Do you support Congress repealing the health care law that passed last year," 49 percent of respondents said yes and 41 percent said no. When the question was phrased slightly differently to call the law the "health care reform law," 54 percent said yes and 40 percent answered no.

In another Quinnipiac survey of 1,160 voters conducted Jan. 25-31, 50 percent of Floridians said the health care law should be repealed; 43 percent said it should not.

The recent polls show more favorable views of the law now than in earlier surveys we found, including a March 2010 poll conducted by Mason-Dixon. That poll found that 34 percent of Florida voters support the law while 54 percent opposed it.

On the national level, the polls asking about repeal are slightly different. A Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll from April 7-12, 2011, found that 52 percent of Americans want to expand the law or keep it as is, 35 percent want to repeal the law and replace it with a GOP alternative or repeal it altogether, and 14 percent are unsure.

A poll for Fox News conducted April 3-5 found that 60 percent of Americans want to repeal at least parts of the health care law, compared to 34 percent who want to expand it or leave it as is.

And a CBS/New York Times poll from January found that 48 percent of Americans want the bill to stand, 40 percent want it repealed, and 12 percent say they're unsure.

So -- on the national level at least -- the poll results vary widely.

And sometimes, that's what makes claims about polls complicated.

But in this case, we're addressing Gibbons' claim specifically about Florida. He said: "Polls show: Floridians don't want to repeal the Affordable Care Act." On a completely literal hearing of his comments, we guess Gibbons is right -- some Floridians do not want a repeal. But really, the question is, where do most Floridians stand?

We found two reputable recent polls from Quinnipiac University that both found -- though narrowly -- a plurality of Floridians support a repeal of the health care law. We rate this claim Barely True.

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Editor's note: This statement was rated Barely True when it was published. On July 27, 2011, we changed the name for the rating to Mostly False.

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Democratic state Rep. Joe Gibbons says Floridians don't favor health care repeal

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