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As The GOP Tries To Dismantle Obamacare, Its Approval Rating Goes Up


And our colleague, Danielle Kurtzleben from NPR's Washington Desk, has been with us this morning keeping us up to date on how the Trump administration might change our country's direction on some key issues. And, Danielle, let's talk about health care, if we can. Interesting moment for this president, right? I mean, a lot of supporters of Obamacare like to say things have really improved. There are far fewer Americans without insurance now. But Donald Trump has said he's going to repeal that law. So, I mean, talk to me about the position he's in.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Right. So that puts him in a little bit of a bind when you think about it because, you know, like Obamacare proponents like to point out, the uninsured rate is at a historic low. And under Obamacare, the cost of premiums continues to rise, but that has slowed down some. So, you know, that's also good for consumers. Aside from that, we had a new poll that came out this week from NBC News showing that for the first time, more Americans like Obamacare than dislike it. So that makes...

GREENE: Oh, that's a big change. That's a new trend.

KURTZLEBEN: Right, yeah. So repealing this law and then replacing it, you know, all of this means that he has higher bars to clear with that replacement - he and Republicans in Congress, that is. You know, recently he promised health care for all. So if he does that, he and Republicans in Congress will have to prevent health care costs from skyrocketing. Add to that you just have major overarching problems. The cost of health care in America is still fantastically big. Health care costs right now equal around 18 percent of GDP, which is just massive.

GREENE: A lot.


GREENE: Can I just ask a really broad question at this moment of transition? Are we a healthy country?

KURTZLEBEN: (Laughter) I mean, in the global context, yes, we are a highly developed country. You know, we are, in the grand scheme of things, relatively healthy, but we have some really ugly numbers. For example, adult obesity continues to climb. Drug overdoses grew in a really big way during the Obama presidency, in large part driven by this really terrible opioid epidemic we have. There are some shocking numbers on that. Between 2008 and the most recent numbers we have, 2015, opioid overdose deaths grew by 69 percent. That's just massive.

However, you know, you can see a few bright spots. Americans are smoking less. They're drinking less soda. And, you know, especially when you look at our young people, things are looking a bit better. High schoolers are smoking way less than they used to, and childhood obesity seems to have flattened out. So in some ways, we're seeing a few bright spots.

GREENE: OK. Talking about this moment of transition in the country with our colleague, Danielle Kurtzleben. Thanks, Danielle.

KURTZLEBEN: Yeah, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Danielle Kurtzleben is a political correspondent assigned to NPR's Washington Desk. She appears on NPR shows, writes for the web, and is a regular on The NPR Politics Podcast. She is covering the 2020 presidential election, with particular focuses on on economic policy and gender politics.
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