Archive for April 15th, 2010

Poll: Opposition to Obama’s Health Law Surges

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Opposition to the takeover of health care still seems to perplexing to Democrats, who seemed to think that once it was forced into law, that everyone would happily jump on board. That does not appear to be the case.

WASHINGTON — Opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law jumped after he signed it — a clear indication his victory could become a liability for Democrats in this fall’s elections.

A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds Americans oppose the health care remake 50 percent to 39 percent. Before a divided Congress finally passed the bill and Obama signed it at a jubilant White House ceremony last month, public opinion was about evenly split. Another 10 percent of Americans say they are neutral.

Disapproval for Obama’s handling of health care also increased from 46 percent in early March before he signed the bill, to 52 percent currently — a level not seen since last summer’s angry town hall meetings.

Nonetheless, the bleak numbers may not represent a final judgment for the president and his Democratic allies in Congress.

Only 28 percent of those polled said they understand the overhaul extremely or very well. And a big chunk of those who don’t understand it remain neutral. Democrats hope to change public opinion by calling attention to benefits available this year for seniors, families with children transitioning to work and people shut out of coverage because of a medical problem.

“There are some things I like, because I think that there are some people who need health care,” said Jim Fall, 73, a retired computer consultant from Wrightwood, Calif.

But “I don’t like the idea of the government dictating what health care should be like,” added Fall. “Nor do I like them taking money out of Medicare. They are going to create more waste and they are going to take away benefits.”

Seniors — reliable voters in midterm congressional races — were more likely to oppose the law. Forty-nine percent strongly opposed it, compared with 37 percent of those 64 and younger. Seniors’ worries that Medicare cuts to insurers, hospitals and other providers will undermine their care represent a formidable challenge for Democratic congressional candidates this fall.

Analysts said the level of public wariness on such a major piece of social legislation is unusual.

“The surprise of this poll is that you would expect people to be more supportive of the bill now that it’s the law of the land — and that’s not the case,” said Robert Blendon, a Harvard public health professor who follows opinion trends on health care. “The election for the House is going to be competitive, and health care is clearly going to be an issue.”

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