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As Supreme Court Weighs Health Care Reform, Americans View Law More Dimly

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By Larry Kane and Jericka Duncan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The new health care law goes to the US Supreme Court this week (see related story), with a new poll showing support for it is weak.

“Today we have a lot of people that don’t get coverage until they need it,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “They go to the emergency room, they go to the hospital and the rest of us pay for that, is that fair?”

Democrat Delaware U.S. Sen. Tom Carper supports The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010. Part of legislation includes a fine, by 2014 for people without health insurance.

Republican Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania wants the act repealed.

“This is a breathtaking brand new assertion of power on the part of the federal government,” said Sen, Toomey. “Let’s be clear, if the government can force you to go out and buy health insurance they can force you to buy anything else.”

The Supreme Court will eventually decide whether the insurance mandate is constitutional. In the court of public opinion, feelings are mixed.

If the American people decided today on whether to keep or scrap the health care reform package passed in 2010, it would not be close.

40-year-old Will Moultrie has insurance through his job but he doesn’t necessarily agree people should be forced to have health care coverage on their own.

“If it’s affordable, I think everyone should have it,” said the West Philadelphia native. “I don’t think it’s fair to have them make you pay for it.”

Second year Medical students, Genevieve Streb and Kelli Braightmeyer, said they aren’t even sure which side to choose.

“I think that there definitely needs to be something done,” said Streb. “I think everybody needs to have a right to health care, but I don’t know this is exactly the answer to it.”

“I don’t really know what one thing is right,” said Braightmeyer. “I don’t know if there is one right answer for everyone.”

Forty-seven percent of respondents in a new CBS News poll disapprove of the law, while just 36 percent approve of it.

But it’s the inside of the poll that tells you a lot.  Only 16 percent “strongly approve,” while 30 percent “strongly disapprove.”

The longer the debate continues, it seems, the more people are against it.  Two years ago, 43 percent approved of the health care reform law.

59-year-old Christine Jacobs says she read through most of the Affordable Care Act. She’s closely monitoring what happens in the highest court.

“I’m hoping that what comes out of it is the understanding that we’re all actually in health care today and this is just an equitable way of making sure everyone be sure to pay for it,” said Jacobs.

Now, the highest degree of support comes from people under 30, and the lowest from senior Americans.

More Details from the CBS News Poll

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