The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The public differs with Republicans on two critical health-care issues

A view of a Planned Parenthood clinic in New York in March. (Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency)

Republicans operate in a right-wing bubble in which they falsely assume that they have a mandate to govern as if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) had been elected president. It behooves them to remember that President Trump promised that he would cover “everyone” in his health-care plan, and when it came to Planned Parenthood, was less than stalwart.

In the February 2016 debate, he hedged: “Millions of millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood. I would defund it because I’m pro-life, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.” In August 2015, he told CNN, “I would look at the good aspects of it and I would also look because I’m sure they do some things properly and good, good for women, and I would look at that.” Meanwhile, he told Sean Hannity, “They do good things. There’s two Planned Parenthoods, in a way.”

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Now the Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling finds that a “majority of voters in 13 Republican-held districts oppose defunding Planned Parenthood.” The numbers should be a wake-up call for Republicans: “The Public Policy Polling survey shows 59 percent of voters in 13 districts won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton oppose defunding Planned Parenthood, compared with the 35 percent who support it.” Moreover, “Fifty-four percent said they would be less likely to vote for their GOP representative if they voted to defund Planned Parenthood, compared with 30 percent who said they would be more likely to support them.”

According to the March Fox News poll, among all voters 57 percent have at least a somewhat favorable view of Planned Parenthood, while 32 percent do not. Among independents , 63 percent approve of Planned Parenthood.

In short, Republicans in the country at large may support defunding Planned Parenthood, but voters in the districts of the most vulnerable GOP representatives do not, and the country overall has a very favorable impression of the group.

There is more bad news for the GOP. As it turns out, coverage for those with preexisting conditions remains very popular. Politico reports:

A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows resistance to the new measure’s most controversial provision, with half of all voters opposing allowing states to decide whether to opt-out of requiring health insurance companies to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions. It’s a key offering from GOP House leadership to conservatives wary that the party’s previous Obamacare replacement didn’t go far enough in unwinding the law.
Only 38 percent of voters surveyed support allowing states to opt-out of these protections — a figure that underscores the struggle House Republicans and President Donald Trump are having in corralling votes from GOP members who represent districts that lean toward Democrats or are evenly divided.

Even Republicans do not like the idea. (A plurality of 48 percent do not like the opt-out.)

The divide in the country between those, on one hand, who want a guarantee of coverage for preexisting illnesses and favor funding Planned Parenthood, and on the other, those who take the opposite view, is not merely a Republican/Democratic divide. It’s a divide that runs through the House Republican conference. Freedom Caucus members often oppose legislation (as they did on the first Trumpcare effort), leaving a functional majority in the House (the rest of the GOP contingent and Democrats) and in the Senate (moderate Republicans and Democrats). That might explain why the GOP wish-list is proving so hard to check off.