Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 23, 2010

HEALTH CARE REFORM'S POPULARITY GETS ANOTHER BOOST.... Last week, a national Associated Press-GfK poll found that support for the Affordable Care Act was not only the rise, but had reached new heights -- health care reform's supporters outnumbered opponents, 45% to 42%.

Now, we have another poll with similar results. A new Gallup poll shows support inching up, with supporters topping opponents -- 49% of respondents said passage of the law is a "good thing," while 46% said it's a "bad thing." That's a modest shift in the right direction from a few months, but it's a shift nevertheless.

Of particular interest, though, were the breakdowns by age group.

On the basis of age, the largest well of opposition is found among seniors, 60% of whom call passage of the bill a bad thing, similar to the 57% in April. By contrast, attitudes are more favorable than unfavorable among young and middle-aged adults.

The Affordable Care Act is quite popular among Americans aged 18 to 29, with 57% believing the new law is a good thing. Among those 30 to 49 and those 50 to 64, support isn't quite as strong, but supporters clearly outnumber opponents in both age groups, and the favorable attitudes have increased since April.

It's the older folks who aren't happy -- opposition is nearly 2-to-1, and it's the only age group where opposition has gone up, not down, since April.

This tell us a couple of interesting things. The first is that right-wing efforts to scare the elderly -- the constituency that's generally skeptical of Obama anyway -- have been largely successful. Seniors love their government-run socialized medicine, and they're worried about Democrats finding cost-savings in unnecessary Medicare spending. The second is that those who are likely to be affected most by the new law are those most likely to approve of it.

Regardless, in the bigger picture, one of the keys to the Republican midterm strategy is predicated on the notion that Americans just hate the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, just this morning, House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) office insisted, without evidence, that "the American people remain squarely opposed" to health care reform, and recognize "the rising public backlash against the new law."

Boehner may want to consider updating those talking points; they're both stale and wrong.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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I suspect the "favorable" number for seniors will increase this autumn when they begin receiving their $250 medicare prescription reimbursement checks.

Posted by: RolloTomasi on June 23, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I hope everyone has read the new report today on BBC, analysis of health care in the 7 industrialized nation, including Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, the US and others shows the UK winning, the US comes in last.
As a former Brit I constantly tell people how good my health care was in England, they look at me as though I could not possibly be telling the truth,I am saddened that many people here have been brainwashed to think they have the best system in the world.

Posted by: jJS on June 23, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to go on to Medicare. Add nice little supplemental policy and I would be set. As it is I am stuck with a hopelessly expensive crappy high deductible plan.

Maybe all those seniors who oppose the ACA want to see Medicare extended to all?

Has anybody started the push to amend the ACA to deal with its many flaws?

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 23, 2010 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

I hope these surveys have more detail about why people don't support the bill. Some may not like it because it doesn't go far enough.

Posted by: qwerty on June 23, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

"they're worried about Democrats finding cost-savings in unnecessary Medicare spending."

I think a lot of seniors picture their doctor's office teaming with poor people and black people and suddenly the seniors sink in their position in society down to the level of the poor and colored if they're waiting in the same line with them.

Posted by: Cal on June 23, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I hear this almost daily on rightwing radio and I listen only briefly on the way to work.

Obamacare will cut medicare! Seniors have been betrayed by AARP.

Then usually followed with tear up your AARP card and join Amac. Not a usual ad, but spoken by the host in the midst of all the other blather.

Posted by: agave on June 23, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Why not take a poll with folks who depend on community health care clinics where how much you pay is based on a slidding scale ? The affordable health care act, due to the efforts of Senator Sanders, has 14 billion dollars to expand these health clinics around the country, including hiring 20,000 more doctors for them. This part of the new law has hardly ever been covered by the corporate media. Hardly anyone even knows of this expansion. Of course the millionaire 'journalists', hired by the corporations that own them, has purposefully ignored this part of the new law. I wonder why.........

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Posted by: zybzdppaa on June 23, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

The closing arguments, at this blog and elsewhere, at the end of the HCR bill was that HCR would have incremental improvement and this was just the first step and there'd by more legislation if we could just get the first bill passed.

It really doesn't matter whether Boehner is right or wrong. It matters what political reality their constant messaging creates.

And what it creates is nervous Nellie Dems who refuse to continue the battle.

Like a few of use predicted.

Charlie Brown, you've been had. Again.

Posted by: Observer on June 23, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm turning 65 this month.
I'd love to go on medicare, too.
I don't dare. my spouse is nine years younger than I. If I go on medicare, I lose my employer program. Poof. no more coverage for the spouse with multiple chronic problems.

After 2014? We'll see.

Posted by: efgoldman on June 23, 2010 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Although I am a huge proponent of the Affordable Care Act I did see something on TV this morning that gave me pause. MEDICARE reimbursement to doctors will go down 21% this summer. So 13% more doctors in the US have decided that they can no longer see MEDICARE patients. If that is the truth and when we retire we have limited amount of doctors to see isn't that worrying? It seems like the doctors think the cut to MEDICARE is not just in the paperwork? Can you address this?

Posted by: SYSPROG on June 23, 2010 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

It is my understanding that Obama has been trying to reinstate the payments to doctors, but the GOP is blocking the effort.

Posted by: Joan on June 23, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

My very very left-wing friend who hates Obama (fom that side and may vote for him in 2012 because what's the alternative?) is appalled that all she gets is $250 once now that she's fallen into the donut hole: her costs for her prescriptions is so high that she has to wait until it's much higher to get anymore reimbursement. The Act gives her $250 once. It's a pittance when you're paying $400/month until 2011 or 2020.

The donut hole should be done away with right away.

Posted by: modaca on June 23, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

I will be on Medicare next year. I just called my doctor that I've had for the last 7 years. She is not taking Medicare patients. This is what some of us are facing... changing doctors and hoping we don't get dropped.

Posted by: ML on June 23, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Although I am a huge proponent of the Affordable Care Act I did see something on TV this morning that gave me pause. MEDICARE reimbursement to doctors will go down 21% this summer.

The 21% cut has nothing to do with the ACA unless you want to count the fact that it would have been an excellent opportunity to fix the problem. It's the result of a much earlier piece of legistlation that, like the AMT, is fixed on a temporary basis every couple of years because the permanent fix is too hard to pay for under budget rules. Surprisingly enough, this time around the GOP has chosen to play politics with it.

Posted by: drkrick on June 23, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

I want to ask those old people on Medicare: "Do you really think your grandkids don't deserve at least half of the health care you get?"

It feels like this older generation is an anomaly, really. I don't remember my own grandparents being so unwilling to share with the young'uns. This sounds rather... selfish of them, like they think they get to take the lion's share of medical spending, and then decide no one else even gets the mouse's share.

There really is enough to go around. But I'd like that kid who needs asthma medicine to get a bit of it. It seems strange that the oldsters disagree... but probably they're like my well-insured friends. They think actually the underinsured have all sorts of access to terrific healthcare for free. Probably the oldsters think everyone else also has Medicare sort of.

Posted by: ashenden on June 23, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

ML, yeah, it's sad that some doctors aren't taking Medicare patients (but I wonder how long that will last-- Medicare pays better than a lot of the big insurers). But imagine being in my situation:
Terrible horrible no-good insurance that costs $8K a year and pays for nothing. (Really. It won't pay for chemo if I get cancer. It paid for surgery, but not the anesthesia. Please compare that to Medicare!)
Pre-existing condition.
Network of physicians-- none of which, of course, anyone in my family has ever seen. Oh, btw, doctor's visits, physical therapy, prescription, none of that is covered.
Then the insurer decided to quit operating in my state. Stuck me in Anthem... for a year. For "only" a 12% increase. After a year, Anthem will drop me and my family.

Okay, so I'm "insured." Virtually nothing is covered. The network doesn't allow me to choose my own doctor. Doesn't matter, because they don't pay for that anyway.
The insurer raised premiums by 100% in 4 years, then departed the state.
The new insurer won't keep me on. No one else will take me.

Now what? Well, heck, in 11 years, I'll qualify for Medicare. and then I'll complain like you do that I don't always get to see "my" doctor. But I'll have a doctor! Yay!

All I can say is... I envy you! Enjoy!

Posted by: ashenden on June 23, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

"the Affordable Care Act was not only the rise, but had reached new heights"

People have no idea what it is, what it will do. If popularity has inched up, it's because the anti-HCR ads and news coverage (of anti politicians) have ceased.

"Seniors love their government-run socialized medicine, and they're worried about Democrats finding cost-savings in unnecessary Medicare spending"

Why would seniors be worried about eliminating "unnecessary" Medicare spending? The silly phrasing of the sentence exposes the spin for what it is - Mr. Benen's (and the admin's) line trying to reinforce the assertion that there are cost-savings in the HCR plan. The savings measures, like "eliminate fraud and abuse," will be difficult to realize. The largest opportunity for cost savings - single payer or making Dr's accept Medicare allowable amounts - were compromised away. (Perhaps necessarily, I wouldn't know).

I suspect Cal's comment, from above, is more correct: for those current Medicare members who actually have heard of HCR, they don't want more (poor) people to get benefits similar to them, fearing Dr's offices overrun with undesirables.

But on the whole, if you ask people why they do or don't like it, their responses will indicate 70% ignorance and 30% propaganda.

Posted by: flubber on June 23, 2010 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Learning lots so far! But I would like to address a couple of comments. First 'why are old people so selfish?' Huh. They had good insurance all their lives (that they/employer paid for) and then went on Medicare with a supplemental assuming they would have the same quality of care. OH..they got screwed by both MEDICARE and the insurance company and we say to them 'why are you so selfish?' huh. When I was listening this morning to the drs leaving MEDICARE it did occur to me that MANY drs also had left ins. companies. My doctor refused to take any more AETNA patients. Why don't we talk about that? The lefty that is upset because she's only getting $250? Did you complain when the 'donut hole' went IN to effect? Or just wait. Oh and I still don't understand this cut to MEDICARE. So it happens every couple of years, Obama is trying to take care of it and the GOP is saying 'no' once again to make hay on this? I think I need to go study on this.

Posted by: SYSPROG on June 23, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the "common people" are ready for big government to take care of them. These numbers will only grow, as we increase national health care over the coming decades.

Posted by: catherineD on June 23, 2010 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Following up on the comment about scare tactics working on seniors, it would be interesting to see the degree to which Republican attempts to raise concern in the senior population account for the view points of seniors. Could some of this also be that seniors tend to be more conservative that younger people?

Posted by: Wellescent Health Blog on June 23, 2010 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK
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