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KFF September Tracking Poll Looks at Health Reform and the Elections

The tug of war for public opinion on health reform continues this month, with approval and disapproval remaining in the same relatively narrow band each has occupied since passage even as favorable views regain a small upper hand, 49 percent favorable vs. 40 percent unfavorable. Opinion is more closely divided among this fall’s likely voters (46 percent vs. 45 percent), and opponents of the law continue to hold their views more emphatically than supporters. Meanwhile, with five weeks left until the midterm elections, confusion over the new health law has risen to its highest point since April, with 53 percent of Americans now saying they are confused about health reform. Misperceptions about the law also persist: for example, three in ten seniors believe the law will permit government panels to make decisions about end-of-life care for Medicare recipients (often referred to as “death panels”). When it comes to voter turnout and vote choice, the September tracking survey suggests that, at least at this point, health reform is not playing a major role or providing a decisive advantage to one party’s position over the other.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.