A recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that eight out of 10 Americans know that President Obama signed the reform legislation into law – but 55 percent say they are confused about the law and more than half (56 percent) say they don’t yet have enough information to understand how it will affect them personally.
The poll found that the public supports many of the health reform provisions set to be implemented in the short term. When asked about 11 specific provisions scheduled to take effect this year, in each case a majority of Americans viewed them favorably, often with bipartisan support.
Still, the public remains divided on the law overall, with 46 percent viewing it favorably, 40 percent unfavorably, and 14 percent undecided. Similarly, 31 percent of Americans say they expect personally to be better off because of the law, while 32 percent say they will be worse off and 30 percent say they don’t expect to be affected.
2010 provisions have bipartisan support
The new law was designed to include provisions that take effect in the first year so that the public would see tangible results more immediately. The poll tested the popularity of many of these early measures and found they had widespread support across the political spectrum, including among Republicans and independents.
Nearly nine out of 10 Americans favor providing tax credits to small businesses that want to provide coverage for their workers, for instance. And roughly eight out of 10 have favorably view provisions that would offer access to basic preventive care with no copayments, provide financial help to seniors who hit the gap in Medicare drug coverage known as the “doughnut hole,” and end insurance companies’ practice of dropping coverage if a person has a major health problem.
In each of these cases, at least two-thirds of Republicans and independents join most Democrats in viewing the provisions favorably.
Americans are more confused than angry about health reform
Although anger grabs the headlines, the only emotion shared by more than half of the public when it comes to the health reform law is confusion.
Overall, 55 percent say they are confused, an emotion more commonly reported by those who feel unfavorably toward reform (61 percent of whom feel confused) than among those who favor it (44 percent of whom feel confused).
Some Americans report feeling other emotions, including 45 percent each who say they are “pleased” or “disappointed,” 42 percent who are “anxious,” and 40 percent who are “relieved.” Anger is at the bottom of the list, a feeling reported by 30 percent of the public, including 16 percent who say they are “very angry.” Asked what it was about health reform that made them angry, that 30 percent divided as follows: Nine percent did not like the way the policymaking process worked, 7 percent did not like the final content, and 12 percent did not approve of either.
Cable TV news: The ‘most important’ source of information about reform
Americans of all political leanings pointed to cable television news more than any other source when they were asked to choose their most important source of news and information about the law. More than a third (36 percent) cited cable TV news stations and their websites as their most important outlet, followed by network news (16 percent), newspapers (12 percent), friends and family (10 percent), and the radio (9 percent).
There were some differences along party lines, however. Republicans were more likely to name cable TV as their most important news source, with 45 percent saying so compared to 30 percent of Democrats. On the other hand, Democrats were twice as likely as Republicans and independents to say that they got most of their information from network news (23 percent of Democrats compared to 12 percent of the other two groups).
Overall sentiment about the new law still breaks sharply along partisan lines. Nearly eight out of 10 Democrats (77 percent) favor the new law, while about as many Republicans (79 percent) view it unfavorably, a mix very similar to that seen before the bill’s passage in March. Political independents tilt against the law (46 percent opposed compared with 37 percent in favor), while self-described moderates favor the measure 55 percent to 31 percent.
SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation