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Senior Citizen Politics

Senior Citizens Warming to Health Care Reform as Republicans Set Stage to Kill It

Negative attitude about health care reform reaches new low among senior citizens

By Tucker Sutherland, editor,

Jan. 4, 2011 – The last Kaiser Health Tracking Poll of 2010 shows U.S. adults almost evenly divided in their opinion of the health care reform bill passed last March, but senior citizens, who were panicked by claims that the bill set up death panels to consider the fate of old people, and other misconceptions, have turned the corner and are seeing positive benefits in the legislation. This has not stopped the Republicans from moving ahead in the House with an effort to repeal the whole plan.


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The Kaiser poll found 42 percent of adults having a generally favorable view of the law, while 41 percent have a generally unfavorable view. The biggest changes have been among senior citizens.

“Seniors, generally more critical of the law than younger people, seem to be softening in their opposition as the national discussion shifts to the federal budget and deficit,” according to the analysis by Kaiser News.

“The share of those aged 65 and up holding unfavorable views of health reform dropped to 40 percent in December, the lowest since the passage of the law.”

The swing for the seniors has not been directly from “unfavorable” to “favorable,” but has primarily shifted to a position of withholding their opinion. This option grew by 10 percentage points since the election period.

The past two months have also found a slightly higher proportion of the public withholding opinion on the subject – hovering at 18 percent.

Republicans create 'Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act'

Despite the more favorable trends noted in the poll, the Republicans have moved ahead and posted their House bill to repeal the entire legislation. The unusual title of the GOP legislation is “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act.” (Click here to draft of bill.)

The new Congress begins tomorrow and some expect the Republicans, now a majority in the House, will push for a vote as early as Friday.

The Kaiser poll also found that as the ‘weak economy continues’ a significant number of people are struggling to stay afloat financially. One in four says their household has had trouble paying medical bills over the past year, and 54 percent say they have delayed needed medical care because of cost.’

Kaiser also looked at how Americans have gained their information about the health care reform legislation.

“Newspapers, radio news, or other online news sources continue to be the most common channels through which Americans receive information about health reform, with two-thirds of Americans saying they learn about the law that way.

Almost as many say they have gotten information about the law through friends and family (64%) and via cable TV news channels and websites (61%). Fifty-eight percent say they get such information through national broadcast network news channels and websites,” Kaiser reports.

How Well Do Private Health Insurance Companies Do?

Most Disagree with Senior Citizens About Private Health Insurance

Senior citizens, who rely primarily on Medicare and Medicaid for health insurance, are much more likely to think private insurance companies do an excellent or good job than are the Americans who actually rely on these private insurance companies for services, according to results of a Gallup poll in November.

Personal Services from:


Only Fair


(senior citizens said...)




Private Insurance
(younger Americans said...)




Note: Republicans are more than twice as likely as Democrats to rate the medical services health insurance companies provide as excellent or good -- 63% vs. 28%. Independents, at 39%, are significantly less likely than Republicans to give health insurance companies positive reviews.

Republicans also rate pharmaceutical companies more positively than do Democrats.

Gallup Nov. 4-7, 2010

“While traditional news sources continue to be the most popular source of information on health reform, the survey suggests that Americans are also beginning to receive information from government agencies, insurance companies, and employers.”

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

“Partisan differences still persist,” notes the Kaiser analysis, “with Republicans overwhelmingly in favor of repealing all or parts of the legislation and a majority of Democrats wanting to leave the law as is or expand it. At this early stage of implementation, 15 percent of the public believe they have already personally benefited from the law through better access to health care and specific early deliverables, while two in ten feel they have been harmed by the law, primarily through what they perceive as higher costs.”

>> More on Kaiser Health Poll (pdf)

Some of this information is reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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