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Most Voters Oppose Insurance Requirement, Say States Have Right To Opt Out of Health Care Law

More than half the states are challenging the constitutionality of the new federal health care law in court, many focusing on the requirement that every American must have health insurance. More voters than ever oppose that requirement and think states should have the right to opt out of some or all of the health care law.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 39% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor a federal law that requires every American to buy or obtain health insurance, while 58% at least somewhat oppose such a requirement. The new findings include 21% who Strongly Favor the requirement versus 44% who are Strongly Opposed. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Most voters have expressed skepticism about requiring all Americans to obtain health insurance since the debate over health care began heating up early in the Obama presidency. Opposition is up five points from last March just after Democrats in Congress passed the health care law with that mandate.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of voters now say individual states should have the right to opt out of the entire health care plan, up from 47% in December 2009. Thirty percent (30%) disagree and say states should not be able to do that. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure.

Similarly, 54% think states should have the right to opt out of portions of the plan they disagree with, while 31% feel states should not be allowed to partially opt out. Again, 15% are undecided.

There's wide disagreement between the Political Class and Mainstream voters. Nearly seven-out-of-10 Mainstream voters say states should have the right to opt out of some or all of the health care plan, but just as many of those in the Political Class disagree and oppose allowing states that right.

But then 85% of Political Class voters favor the requirement that every American must obtain health insurance, while 74% of those in the Mainstream are opposed to it.

Most voters continue to favor repeal of the health care law as they have since Congress passed it.

Female voters favor the requirement that every American buy or obtain health insurance more strongly than male voters do. Sixty-four percent (64%) of African-Americans support that mandate, while 61% of whites and 73% of those of other races are opposed.

Two-thirds (67%) of Democratic voters favor the individual health insurance mandate. Eighty-two percent (82%) of Republicans and 66% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties oppose it.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of GOP voters and 60% of unaffiliateds think states have the right to opt out of the entire health care plan. Fifty-three percent (53%) of Democrats disagree.

As for whether states should have the right to opt out of portions of the plan, 75% of Republicans and 57% of unaffiliated voters say yes, a plurality (49%) of Democrats says no.

A sizable number of voters are clearly interested in the health care debate. Eighty-six percent (86%) say they have followed recent news stories about court decisions regarding the national health care law at least somewhat closely, with 48% who are following Very Closely.

After Congress' passage of the health care law, 49% of voters favored their state suing the federal government to fight the health insurance requirement, while 37% were opposed.

Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 major issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports, including health care.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 2 - 3, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC

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