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Health system reform sees rebound in public support

After declining in August, public support for a variety of aspects of health system reform increased in September, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll. Fifty-three percent of Americans said in mid-September that the country would be better off if President Obama and Congress adopted health reform, an increase from August's 45% and the 51% reported in July. Republicans and independents also softened their opposition: 49% of Republicans said families would be worse off if health reform passes, down from 61% in August. The percentage of independents saying so dipped to 26%, a decrease of 10 percentage points. "Opinion in the coming months is hard to predict, but as the focus shifted from the town halls and hot-button issues to the president, the Congress and the core issues in the legislation that affect people the most, the summer downturn in support was largely erased," said Drew Altman, PhD, Kaiser's president and CEO. The poll of 1,203 adults was conducted from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18 (www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/posr092909nr.cfm). Other recent polls showed a smaller increase in support for reform than did the Kaiser poll, but it does seem to be increasing, said Robert Blendon, ScD, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health. Kaiser's poll might be showing the leading edge of a wave that the other, slightly earlier polls did not capture, Blendon said. But Blendon said support drops when people are asked about specifics of legislation or asked about their preference for "Obama's bill," for example. "People may be generically for health reform and they may be worried about the bills." The phrase "support for health reform" tends to capture a wide variety of opinions, from those who want single-payer health care to those who only want minor changes to the health system, Blendon said. He expects public support to be volatile in coming month as the debate over health reform enters the final phase. "The issue is not settled in the public's mind." The full and original article can be found here: http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/10/05/gvsh1009.htm
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