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More than half of Americans disapprove of new health law: poll

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House
Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans say President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul will make things worse for their families and the nation overall, a poll released on Thursday found, highlighting the challenges his administration still faces in winning over the public.

Overall, the survey of nearly 2,050 adults showed 52 percent disapprove of the 2010 law aimed at expanding access to health insurance for millions of people, according to Gallup. Another 44 percent said they back the changes.

Among those polled, 42 percent said it would make their family's healthcare situation worse while 33 percent said it would have little impact. Just 22 percent said they thought it would help, the poll showed.

In terms of the country's healthcare system, 47 percent said the law would have a negative impact while 16 percent saw no difference. Thirty-four percent said it would make it better, according to Gallup's survey taken June 20 through Monday.

The findings from nonpartisan polling firm come as the Obama administration ramps up efforts to educate the public about the law known as "Obamacare," including health insurance exchanges set to offer subsidized health plans to consumers in each state in October.

While some aspects of the law have already taken effect, the main provisions, including one requiring people to have health insurance coverage, begin in January.

"As the full implementation of the 2010 Affordable Care Act nears, Americans remain wary of the law and of what kind of impact it will have on their family's healthcare situation and the nation's overall healthcare situation," Gallup said.

Not surprisingly, responses fell largely along political divides, with nearly 90 percent of Republicans opposing the law and about three-quarters of Democrats supporting it.

Whether people were insured or not was also key.

While 54 percent of those who already have health coverage rejected the overhaul, just as many of those without insurance said they supported it, according to the telephone poll, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

"It is possible that once Americans start to learn more about the law - and see it in action, with the uninsured able to start shopping for coverage October 1 - they will change their perspective on its potential impact," Gallup wrote.

(Editing by Michele Gershberg and Doina Chiacu)

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