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softened, and PatientsLikeMe participants were becoming “more tolerant of tweaking [the ACA] and not as tolerant of major change.” There was a more than 5 percent increase, to 56 percent, in those who feel the ACA needs just minor modifications; a 4 percent decrease, to 23 percent, of those who think the law needs a major overhaul; and a 4 percent decline, from 13 percent to 9 percent, in people who think the law should be scrapped.
That position, however, could be swayed by the makeup of the PatientsLikeMe study participants. Okun says, broadly speaking, its members skew “female, white, [and] slightly more educated and affluent than the general population.” She adds that the site is currently in English only.
Polls from other organizations continue to show a stark partisan divide over the ACA. The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found in a 1,205-adult poll between May 16 and May 22 that just 12 percent of Republicans had a favorable view of the ACA, compared to 78 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of Independents. By comparison, 67 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats supported the AHCA.
Overall, though, Kaiser found growing support for the ACA in 2017. In January, 43 percent of poll participants supported the ACA and 46 percent were against it. In May, 49 percent of participants favored the law, and 42 percent didn’t. (Comparatively, as of Kaiser’s May poll, 55 percent disapproved of the AHCA, and 31 percent supported it.)
It’s unclear what the Senate’s AHCA will look like. No draft of the bill has been made public, and no public hearings have been held. A report from Axios yesterday said Republican senators, a group of which have been negotiating the bill behind closed doors, aim to hold a vote before the July 4 recess. Yet Trump, according to a report from the Associated Press, told Republican senators the bill is “mean” and he wanted a “more generous” plan.
As this is all unfolding, Okun says the data PatientsLikeMe is accumulating has taken on particular importance. The company makes its money through contracts with pharmaceutical companies and other entities, not from its healthcare reform data, but plans to keep running periodic polls. It has also set up a Web page for people to communicate the poll data directly to their representatives. And, should the Republicans pass a new law, PatientsLikeMe will track the impact on patient healthcare over time.