Fox News poll: Nation divided on health care law ahead of Supreme Court ruling

As the country awaits the U.S. Supreme Court decision on health care, more American voters continue to oppose the law than favor it.  In addition, voters are divided over what Congress should do if the high court rules parts or all of the 2010 law as unconstitutional.

A Fox News poll released Wednesday finds nearly half of voters oppose the law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2010.  Thirty-nine percent favor the law.  Thirty-nine percent -- the exact same number -- also favored it at the time it was passed two years ago (April 2010).

What should happen if the court invalidates the entire health care law?  The largest number of voters -- 47 percent -- thinks Congress should try to pass “more modest” reforms.  The rest divide evenly between the opposite ends of the spectrum:  24 percent want Congress to keep pushing the issue and try to pass the “most extensive” reforms it can, while another 24 percent want lawmakers to stay out of health care altogether.

The preference for moderation on health care extends across party lines.  The largest number of both Democrats and Republicans pick the middle ground and think Congress should try to pass more modest reforms.  Republicans are five times more likely than Democrats to say that if the court tosses out the law then Congress should do nothing on the issue.

Click here for full poll results.

If the justices toss out only the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance, views split:  43 percent want lawmakers to scrap the whole law because it can’t work without the individual mandate and 42 percent want Congress to keep what’s left of the law and see what works.

Democrats (63 percent) think Congress should keep what’s left of the law, while Republicans (69 percent) say the whole thing has to go.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on the law Thursday.

In early June, the Fox poll found 38 percent wanted the Supreme Court to toss out the entire law, and another 21 percent wanted to keep most of the law, but invalidate the mandate for Americans to buy health insurance.  Three in 10 said the court should let the entire law stand (June 3-5, 2012).   In addition, 60 percent said the requirement to buy health insurance is a violation of individual rights protected by the Constitution.

Even if the court rules against the president’s major legislative accomplishment, he gets points for trying:  54 percent of voters describe the time and energy Obama spent on health care reform as a “worthwhile effort” -- even if it is invalidated.  Forty-one percent see it as a “waste of time.”

Most Democrats (83 percent) think it was a worthwhile effort, while most Republicans agree with Mitt Romney’s view that it was a waste (73 percent).  A 53-percent majority of independents give Obama credit for trying.

Overall, by an eight percentage-point margin, more voters disapprove than approve of the president’s job performance on health care (51 percent disapprove, 43 percent approve).

One in five Democrats disapprove of Obama on health care (20 percent).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 912 randomly-chosen registered voters nationwide and is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 24 to June 26.  For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.