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Americans Seeing Health Care Package More Negatively as Deadline Nears

5 years ago
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President Obama and Democratic leaders are not only in a race against time in their hopes of passing a health care reform bill by Christmas, they may be in a race against the trend of public opinion. The latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows a turn toward the negative on several indicators of how Americans are seeing the legislation.

The poll, conducted Dec. 7-13, found that a majority supports health care reform now even though the country is facing serious economic problems. But, that number is smaller than last month and represents the lowest percentage since August. Fifty-four percent favor taking on health care reform now compared to 41 percent who say the country can't afford it, with 5 percent undecided. Last month, the margin was 58 percent to 36 percent, with 6 percent undecided.

Fifty-nine percent believe they and their families would not benefit or be worse off if health care legislation passes. Thirty-five percent believe they would be better off, 3 percent say "it depends," and 3 percent are undecided. Last month, 51 percent said passage of reform wouldn't make a difference or would leave their families worse off, compared to 42 percent who said they would be better off.

In November, a majority (54 percent) said that the country would be better off under health care reform legislation, a number that has now fallen to 45 percent. Forty-eight percent said the country would be worse off or not see much benefit from the changes.

Support among seniors, an important political bloc, has fallen. Forty percent think they would be better off compared to 43 percent last month. Fifty-two percent say passage of a bill wouldn't make much difference or would leave them worse off.

"Since time immemorial we've seen in these health reform debates that when they get really contentious and hot, people get nervous and cautious about change and a little more comfortable with the status quo," said Drew Altman, the Kaiser Foundation's president. But Altman believes there is still an "adequate" level of public support to draw upon in pushing ahead with legislation.

Filed Under: Health Care, Polls, Poll Watch
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