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Kaiser Health Tracking Poll — July 2010

The July Health Tracking Poll indicates overall public support for the health reform law is steady from June, while unfavorable views of the law have trended downward.  Half the public (50%) now expresses a favorable view of the law, while 35 percent say they have an unfavorable opinion (down from 41% in June).

The poll also took a closer look at the views of seniors since they are often assumed to have a uniform view about issues.  Below are some of the poll’s key findings about seniors’ views:

While seniors’ views of the new law are more negative than those of their younger counterparts, they remain roughly split about the law with 46 percent of seniors holding an unfavorable view of the law and 38 percent holding a favorable one. While 35 percent of seniors think they will be worse off under reform, a greater share (57%) say they will be better off (20%) or it will make no difference (37%).

Seniors’ awareness about the specific provisions of the health reform law that affect Medicare is mixed.  For example, about half are aware that the new law will result in premium increases for some higher income Medicare beneficiaries (52%) and gradually close Medicare’s “doughnut hole” (50%).  However, just a third (33% ) know the law will eliminate Medicare’s co-pays and deductibles for some preventive services.

On the other hand, large shares of seniors mistakenly believe the law includes provisions that cut some previously universal Medicare benefits and creates “death panels.”  Half of seniors (50%) say the law will cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare, and more than a third (36%) incorrectly believe the law will “allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.”

Despite the fact that Medicare’s actuaries predict the health reform law will extend the life of the Medicare Part A Trust Fund by 12 years (from 2017 to 2029), only 14 percent of seniors know this and nearly half (45%) of seniors think the health reform law will weaken the financial condition of the fund.

In general, seniors with a favorable view of the law are more likely to be aware of some of the law’s benefit improvements for Medicare, while those with an unfavorable view are more likely to be aware of increases in taxes and premiums that occur under the law.

icon_fact_sheet Findings (.pdf)

icon_fact_sheet Chartpack (.pdf)

icon_fact_sheet Toplines (.pdf)