Although a majority of Americans say they see reform as more important than ever, the proportions who see the plans benefiting the nation and their families have decreased to levels last seen in August, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s December Health Tracking Poll.
The survey also suggests that the public is engaged in the debate to a considerably higher degree than during the last major reform effort (in 1994), and that hope and frustration top the list of emotions they experience as they attempt to figure out what health care reform will mean for them.
Overall, 54 percent say the economic challenges facing the country make it more important than ever to tackle reform, while 41 percent say we cannot afford reform right now. These percentages have remained fairly steady throughout the last few months, though the gap between those who want reform now and those who don’t shrunk somewhat this month.
Also consistent are the extreme partisan divisions that lie at the heart of the debate, with the large majority of Democrats (75 percent) supportive of reform now, the majority of Republicans opposed (67 percent) and political independents tilting positive (53 percent say reform now, 43 percent say wait).
However, the percentage of Americans who believe they will be personally better off if Congress passes health care reform is down seven percentage points from last month to 35 percent, making for a much more divided public on this measure, with roughly three in ten saying they think they will be worse off (27 percent) and another three in ten not expecting to see much change (32 percent).