Kaiser Health Tracking Poll -- January 2010
The January Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that Americans are divided over congressional health reform proposals, but also that large shares of people, including skeptics, become more supportive after being told about many of the major provisions in the bills. The poll, conducted before the Massachusetts Senate vote, finds opinion about the legislation is split, with 42 percent supporting the proposals, 41 percent opposing them and 16 percent withholding judgment. But majorities reported feeling more favorable toward the legislation after learning about key elements such as the availability of tax credits for small businesses, the creation of health insurance exchanges, the inability of insurers to deny people coverage because of pre-existing conditions and the move to close the Medicare drug benefit’s “doughnut hole.” The notable exceptions were the individual mandate and the overall price tag, both of which tended to make people less supportive of reform efforts.
The poll finds that even after a year of substantial media coverage of the health reform debate, many Americans remain unfamiliar with key elements of the major bills passed by the House and Senate. It also finds that Americans’ views of health reform generally track with their politics: Most Democrats (64%) support the proposals on Capitol Hill, while an even larger majority of Republicans(76%) oppose them. The middle ground is left to independents, with 41 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed – even as a narrow majority(52%) backs the general idea that it is more important than ever to take on health reform now.