KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Mixed Poll Numbers For Obama, Dems As Health Reform Is Signed Into Law

A USA Today/Gallup Poll has found that almost two out of three of Americans say the health care reform law is too costly and expands the government's role in health care too much, USA Today reports. "Those surveyed are inclined to fear that the massive legislation will increase their costs and hurt the quality of health care their families receive, although they are more positive about its impact on the nation's health care system overall." Some worry, in the meantime, that the opposition will continue to "fuel calls for repeal and dog Democrats in November's congressional elections." The poll, taken March 27-29, "has a margin of error of +/–4 percentage points. Half call passage of the bill 'a bad thing' and 47% 'a good thing'" (Page, 3/30).

Politico: President Barack Obama "and his health reform plan did get a bump in several surveys immediately after the House vote eight days ago – but the numbers in some of those polls flattened out, showing how difficult it will be for Obama to capitalize on reform, even after his top legislative goal cleared Congress." But other polls say there has been a bit of a boost for Obama: "The CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll showed Obama's approval rating up to 51 percent from 46 percent before the health bill passed. There were also signs of increased support for Obama from lower-income households and union members – key Democratic voting groups" (Gerstein, 3/29). 

CNN on its poll: "Four in ten respondents say they disapprove because Obama is too liberal and 6 percent say they the president is not liberal enough. Eighty-six percent of Democrats questioned say they approve of the job Obama is doing, a surge of 12 points over the past week. The poll indicates that 47 percent of Independents approve of the president's performance, up 6 points in a week, and 12 percent of Republicans give him the thumbs up, basically unchanged from a week ago." Obama, however, remains tied with an unnamed Republican challenger in a hypothetical 2012 presidential election (Steinhauser, 3/29).

Politico, in a separate story, has "lessons" for the president's health reform effort from the stimulus bill: "...health care reform's enduring narrative will get defined in its initial days and weeks. The legislation also will live or die on public buy-in. In that sense, it presents an added challenge for the White House because, unlike the stimulus, polls show the majority of Americans opposed the bill when it passed. ... There's some risk in Democrats' touting of health care's 'immediate' benefits in the weeks before its passage, when it takes up to six months for them to kick in ... (Lee, 3/30).

Finally, The Associated Press reports Obama will sign the health care reform reconciliation bill Tuesday at Northern Virginia Community College near Washington (3/30).

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