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Kaiser Health Tracking Poll — June 2011

The June Kaiser Health Tracking Poll examines the opinions of seniors and the public about Medicare and the federal budget deficit, a topic of heightened interest these days as policymakers in Washington focus on ways to bring down Medicare spending as part of efforts to reduce the deficit. The poll also provides an early look at the views of registered voters and the potential role health care might play in the upcoming presidential election cycle. Key findings include:

  • In order to reduce the federal deficit, a plurality of Americans (45%) say they would support minor reductions to current levels of Medicare spending, but fewer than one in five (18%) support major reductions for this purpose.
  • When it comes to whom Americans trust to make recommendations to keep Medicare financially sound, no group gets an overwhelming level of support. Americans appear to have more confidence in an independent panel of experts than the federal agency that now runs Medicare, Congress, or private insurers.
  • The public overall is divided on a proposal to change Medicare into a system in which the government pays a fixed amount to help seniors acquire private health insurance coverage (45% support the proposal and 49% prefer the current system).
  • Many Americans – and even higher shares of seniors – remain unaware of some of the key provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that affect Medicare.
  • The public remains divided in their overall assessments of the ACA, with 42 percent holding a favorable view of the law and 46 percent an unfavorable one.

As the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination gets underway, voters continue to want lawmakers and candidates to focus on the country’s economic problems. The economy and jobs dominate the list of issues voters say they want to hear about from candidates (60%), with health care ranking a distant second (26%).

The June poll is the latest in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation’s public opinion research team.

Findings (.pdf)

Chartpack (.pdf)

Toplines (.pdf)