Opinion polls: Obama's health care reform law not a winner so far
The American public expects that Obama's new health care reform law will cause costs to rise and quality of care to drop, new opinion polls find.
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The political process. A 53 percent majority called Democratic methods used to pass the law "an abuse of power," according to the USA Today/Gallup survey. (The reconciliation process circumvented the potential for a Republican fililbuster and allowed passage with a simple majority of the Senate.) Forty percent had no problem with the methods.Skip to next paragraph
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If these results make health reform sound like a Pyrrhic victory for Obama, consider also that Americans are now well aware of the complexity of the medical-system challenge. Two mitigating themes have emerged in earlier polls: Americans don't see the status quo as a good option, and they support a number of specific ideas in Obama's plan.
In a February Newsweek poll, for instance, a strong majority supported requiring insurance companies to cover people regardless of any preexisting health condition, and setting up a government-regulated "exchange" on which individuals can buy coverage at more competitive rates. Americans are also open to a mandate on individuals to buy coverage (with government subsidies available) if they are currently uninsured. That idea garnered 59 percent support in the Newsweek poll and 45 percent support in a February CNN/Opinion Research poll.
Also, Americans generally have less confidence in Republicans than in Democrats on healthcare policy.
At the same time, the latest polls show some big campaign-trail challenges ahead for Obama and Democrats. In both the CNN and Washington Post surveys, a majority of Americans cite negative overall feelings about the reform, with 26 percent in each poll outright "angry" about it – reflecting a broader mood of anger in the electorate. When asked whether they would vote for a Democrat or a Republican to serve in Congress, Americans give a slight edge to the Republican, according to an average of such "generic ballot" questions tracked by the RealClearPolitics website.
A movement to repeal the law could even gain traction. The Rasmussen survey finds Americans favoring repeal by a 54-to-42 margin.
The law does addresses the risk that people will find themselves without health insurance, but does less to control costs. That's the view of many experts. And in effect, Obama himself acknowledged the hurdle in an NBC interview that aired Tuesday. The law "is a critical first step in making a healthcare system that works for all Americans," he said. But "we are still going to have adjustments that have to be made to further reduce costs."