MENLO PARK, Calif. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll issued late last month found that Americans are divided over congressional health-reform proposals, but also noted that large shares of people, including skeptics, become more supportive after being told about many of the major provisions in the bills, such as the effort to close the “doughnut hole” for seniors utilizing Medicare so that seniors no longer would face a period of having to pay the full cost of their medicines.
The new survey found that America’s seniors lean against the proposed legislation, with 48% opposed, 37% in favor and 15% offering no opinion.
The survey, however, found that seniors were less likely than younger Americans to be aware that the legislation includes provisions to close the “doughnut hole.” As many as 37% of seniors were aware of such provisions, compared with 53% of those under age 40. Six-in-10 seniors said that if the legislation did work to close the doughnut hole they would feel more supportive of it, a level of support identical to that found among younger Americans.
The January Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, conducted before the Massachusetts Senate vote, found overall opinion is divided when it comes to the hotly debated legislation, with 42% supporting the proposals in the Congress, 41% opposing them and 16% withholding judgment.
“It’s one thing to talk about the public’s perception of healthcare-reform legislation, which right now is in some ways negative, but it’s another to tell people what’s actually in the bill and when you do that people are more positive,” stated Kaiser president and CEO Drew Altman.
Of the 27 elements of the legislation tested in the poll, 17 moved a majority to feel more positively about the bills and two moved a majority to be more negative.
The poll finds that even after a year of substantial media coverage of the health-reform debate, many Americans remain unfamiliar with key elements of the major bills passed by the House and Senate. About half are aware that tax credits would be available to small businesses, one of the most popular provisions. And 44% recognize that the legislation would help close the Medicare “doughnut hole.”