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Poll: Americans split on health care bills, but most frustrated by delays

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Health care

Poll: Americans split on health care bills, but most frustrated by delays

More than 75 percent say reform is 'extremely' or 'very' important

As legislators prepared to debate health care at President Obama's  "summit" on Thursday, a new tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds Americans with mixed views on reform.  

NPR's blog, Shots, reports on that poll: "Opinion is evenly split on overhaul legislation, with 43 percent of Americans in favor of passage and 43 percent opposed. . . . But ask people about specific changes, and the picture changes quite a bit. More than two-thirds of people favor most of the important planks in the administration's overhaul plan. . . . Ask people how important reforming the way health insurance works is, and 76 percent say it's 'extremely' or 'very important.' Even a majority of Republicans – 64 percent – see things that way."

The Washington Post: "Majorities of Americans say they're 'disappointed' or 'frustrated' by the 'delays' in the reform process. Fewer, about a third say they're 'relieved,' 'anxious' or 'angry.' About three in 10 say they're 'pleased.'" Partisan differences remain, with "majorities of Democrats and independents say they feel disappointed or frustrated, while 'relieved' tops the list among Republicans, the only emotion that cracks the 50-percent-mark among them. Asked how they would feel if Congress decided to stop work on health care reform, about six in 10 say they'd have a negative reaction – 20 percent say they'd be 'angry,' 38 percent 'disappointed.' About four in 10 are more positive, saying they'd be 'relieved' (24 percent) or 'happy' (14 percent)."

Politics Daily: The poll also found that "Americans say by 59 percent to 25 percent that the delays in passing a bill are more about Democrats and Republicans playing politics than fundamental disagreements on the right policy for the country. . . .  The poll identified five areas of health care reform where significant majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents agreed. They were: Reforming the way health insurance works; Providing tax credits to small business; Creating a health insurance exchange marketplace; Helping close the Medicare 'doughnut hole;' Expanding high risk insurance pools."

The telephone survey was conducted Feb. 11-16 and has a margin of sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. KHN is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

A separate poll found employers worried over workers' poor health. "Workers' poor health habits were cited by 67% of companies as a top challenge to maintaining affordable benefit coverage in a new survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health," The Wall Street Journal reports. Employers said they were addressing the problems by "stepping up a number of wellness efforts that have been increasingly popular . . . offering the services of health coaches and trimming certain drug co-pays for employees with chronic conditions."

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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