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Survey: Medicare Participants Cool To New Drug Law

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Nearly half of the people on Medicare have an unfavorable impression of a new law adding a prescription drug benefit to the program, according to a new study.[@@]

The same study found that 26% of those surveyed viewed the new law favorably, while 25% said they did not know enough about it to offer an opinion.

However, the survey, by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, found that 66% think lawmakers should fix the new law rather than scrap it and start anew. Only 1 in 10 favored outright repeal of the law, while 13% favored leaving it as is.

“Fifteen months from implementation, seniors are mostly negative and very confused, but there is little evidence of a large-scale backlash,” says Drew Altman, president and chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “This survey suggests that there will be big debates in the future about the prescription drug law, but they will be about improving it, not repealing it.”

Adding to the confusion, a majority of those responding said they believe the new program will benefit most people on Medicare but do not feel it will help them personally. Of those responding, 53% said they feel the new law will help at least somewhat those with very high drug costs as well as the “typical person on Medicare,” but only 29% said they thought it would help them personally.

Only a minority of those responding said the law would affect their decisions in the voting booth this November. The responses indicated that the new law would more likely affect the votes for Congress rather than the Presidential race. More of those who said their votes would be affected by the law said it made them more likely to vote Democratic than Republican.