Monday, January 31, 2011

Health reform poll: don't cut off funding

Conservatives sometimes argue that the best way to combat what they see as intrusive government regulation is to "starve the beast": use the Congressional power over spending to cut off funding for the government programs they find objectionable. Critics of health reform have advocated (loudly) for that strategy.

But what's America's reaction to that approach? "Not so fast," according to one poll. The majority of Americans (62%) oppose the idea of Congress using defunding efforts to slow down the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

The poll, The Public's Health Care Agenda for the 112th Congress, found that 57% of Republicans favor defunding health reform in the absence of repeal, but most independents are opposed (62%) along with the great majority of Democrats (84%). And, even among those who do not like the law and want to see it repealed, almost four in ten say they disapprove of cutting off funding.

Opinions remain divided. The poll reported that 50% of Americans hold an unfavorable opinion of the ACA, while 41% hold a favorable view. However, the public is divided on what should happen next.

Nearly as many people want to expand the law (28%) or keep it as it is (19%), as want to repeal and replace the law with a Republican-sponsored alternative (23%) or simply repeal it (20%). Kaiser noted that opinions about what should happen next remain highly partisan: 77% of Republicans back some form of repeal, while 51% of Democrats said they want the law expanded.

According to Kaiser, though the public is divided on what should happen next with the ACA, this does not mean that they want Congress to stop working on health care. When asked about the top two issues they would like addressed by the President and Congress in 2011, health care (46%) and the economy (40%) were the top two issues cited by survey respondents. The third most cited issue, the deficit, was cited by only 13% of respondents.

The survey was conducted January 4 through 14 and includes responses from 1,502 individuals ages 18 and older.

For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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