SENIORS ON HEALTH CARE REFORM

By Bill McInturff and Nicole McCleskey

In short order, seniors have changed their tune on several key political dimensions over the course of the last year.  As a critical political indicator, President Obama’s job approval has shifted from 54% approve/37% disapprove in the first six months of 2009 to 41% approve/57% today.

Seniors have taken a clear position on the current health care reform debate. In our most current survey conducted in partnership with Newt Gingrich and the Center for Health Transformation, we see just how far Seniors are from the President’s agenda to overhaul the system:

▸    Just 25% of Seniors agree that our health care system is in need of a “complete overhaul.”

▸    Only18% of seniors say the role of the federal government is to “provide government-run health care to all Americans.”  Seniors much prefer a more limited role, “assisting those Americans who can least afford health care coverage to purchase it” (36%), while a plurality (41%) believe it is not the federal government’s responsibility at all.

Today, nearly six out of ten Seniors (57%) oppose the health care plan being developed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress.  In fact, a near-majority (46%) are “strongly opposed” to the plan.

By a significant margin Seniors side with Republicans, sharing the view that it is time to look at the health care reform process anew:

Who do you agree with more…

35%    President Obama and Democrats who support comprehensive health care reform and want to pass a version of the House and Senate bills.

59%     Republicans in Congress who want to start the health care reform process over and focus on areas of agreement and smaller pieces of legislation.

As we look ahead to the November elections, Seniors are sending a very clear message on health care reform.  Seniors are clearly concerned about the current direction of health care reform, and this will be a critical factor in shaping election decisions in 2010.

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