KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Poll: Opposition To Reform Still High But Easing

A new ABC News-Washington Post poll found that 48 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of health care. "Bottom-line views on health care reform have stabilized but failed to improve since President Obama addressed the nation, leaving him with a continued challenge in selling his plan to a public that remains skeptical about its benefits and costs alike," ABC News reports. 

Although Obama "shows some improvement," his speech to Congress last week "was no game changer." According to the poll, Americans "divide by 48-48 percent on his handling of the issue and by 46-48 percent on the reform package itself, both essentially the same as their pre-address levels. More continue to think reform will worsen rather than improve their own care, costs and coverage." And "perhaps worst for the president, in interviews following his nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress, Americans by 54-41 percent say that the more they hear about health care reform, the less they like it" (Langer, 9/14).

The Washington Post: "President Obama continues to face significant public resistance to his drive to initiate far-reaching changes to the country's health-care system, with widespread skepticism about central tenets of his plan," according to the poll. "But after a summer of angry debate and protests, opposition to the effort has eased somewhat, and there appears to be potential for further softening among critics if Congress abandons the idea of a government-sponsored health insurance option. ... The gap in passion, which had shown greater intensity among opponents of the plan, has also begun to close, with supporters increasingly energized and more now seeing reform as possible without people being forced to give up their current coverage."

Meanwhile, support for a public option is "stabilizing in the survey after dipping last month. Now, 55 percent say they like the idea, but the notion continues to attract intense objection: If that single provision were removed, opposition to the overall package drops by six percentage points, according to the poll."

The poll also finds Obama losing support among seniors. Fifty-six percent of seniors believe that reform would weaken Medicare. "In June, seniors trusted Obama more than they did the Republicans in Congress by a margin of 62 to 24 percent; now, 44 percent side with the GOP, 39 percent with Obama (Cohen and Balz, 9/14).

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