Posted by: mulrickillion | March 2, 2012

Independent Poll Shows Most Americans want Obama’s Health Care Reforms and Contraception Coverage

By M. Ulric Killion

Photo Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore;“Say you’re Mitt Romney. You believe Obama has declared war on religion. As someone who is trying to be the John Connor of the resistance to the forces of free birth control, you could reasonably be expected to know what exactly, your party is doing to rescue Americans from the fresh Hell of preventive care and minimum essential health benefits. Yet when asked by a reporter, Romney seemed unaware of the two main legislative measures Republicans have deployed to prevent exempt employers and insurers from having to cover birth control,” Adam Serwer, Romney Didn’t Know What the Blunt Amendment Was, Mother Jones, February 29, 2012.

When searching for independent polls addressing Obama’s health care reform law, I found that the poll conducted by Kaiser Health News (KHN) was especially informative.

The poll was conducted by Kaiser Health News, which is, according to KHN, “a nonprofit news organization committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics.”

KHN is an independent source of data surrounding the current controversy in health; in particular, Obama’s health care reform law and the provisions set forth therein.

The main source of controversy, as reported by several news sources, is Obama’s health care law reform and the revision concerning contraception coverage.

It is a controversy earlier pitting Republicans against Democrats, and for many it was finally settled with Obama’s earlier revisions.

The Republican line of attack against Obama’s health care law reform, and maybe not the last, was a proposed amendment to the bill that is sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

The purpose of what came to be called the “Blunt-Rubio” amendment was to revise Obama’s contraception rules by amending the law (See, for example, Romney comes out against `Blunt-Rubio’, though by the next day, as reported by New York Times, he clarifies that he is not against Blunt-Rubio amendment).

As many are aware, the Republicans generally opposed Obama’s health care reform law on religious and moral grounds.

The Democrats, however, see this issue as one of health care reform. Quoting a New York Times Editorial,

Health care reform, for the first time, required virtually all insurance policies to cover a package of preventive services without co-payments, including flu shots, pap smears and prenatal care. In August, after an Institute of Medicine recommendation, the Obama administration expanded that list to include birth control and screening for H.I.V. and cervical cancer, among other services.

Churches were exempted on religious grounds from covering birth control. And, last month, Mr. Obama announced a plan to let church-related institutions, like hospitals and universities, shift the cost of this coverage to their insurance companies. But that still wasn’t enough for Republicans. . . .

Republicans claimed the issue was about religious freedom. But it was really about denying consumers — and particularly women — the right to make their own medical decisions and keeping up the antigovernment and anti-President Obama drumbeat. . . .

Then there is the poll, which one will find provides surprising data and conclusions about the demographics on the issue of contraception coverage and other health related-issues, such as Medicare and the fee-for-service promise.

Additionally, the poll results surprisingly demonstrate a division on the issue of  contraception coverage along party lines and age, but not gender.

Finally, and more importantly, the independent poll, like other polls, shows that most Americans actually want Obama’s health care reform law, including the controversial contraception coverage.


“Poll: Most Americans Support Contraception Rule”

Source of Independent Poll:

KHN logo blue

By Marilyn Werber Serafini

KHN Staff Writer

MAR 01, 2012

Six in ten Americans, including Catholics, said they support a requirement by the Obama administration that health plans supply free contraceptives as a preventive benefit for women, according to the latest tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Women were divided, with 85 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of Independents supporting the requirement but only 42 percent of Republicans. Women across the political spectrum typically are closer together when it comes to supporting contraception rights.

"This is a time where the party attitudes about the role of government seemed to be a greater factor than necessarily being a woman," said Mollyann Brodie, the foundation’s director of public opinion and survey research.

The poll also looked at how Americans are responding to recent Republican promises on Medicare. The latest proposals would convert Medicare from a program that provides a set of benefits regardless of the cost to one that gives beneficiaries a set amount of money. Seniors could use that money to buy either a private health plan or traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Still, this nod to traditional Medicare has not persuaded the public. According to the poll, 70 percent of respondents and even 53 percent of Republicans said they wanted Medicare "as it is today, with the government guaranteeing seniors health insurance and making sure that everyone gets the same defined set of benefits."

Overall, only 39 percent of Republicans said they thought Medicare should change to a premium support model that guaranteed seniors a fixed amount of money for health insurance, even if they could use it to buy traditional fee-for-service.

The poll calls into question whether Republicans will be able to count on the fee-for-service promise to provide them with political cover in November. House Republicans took heat last year when nearly every one of them voted for a premium support plan sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that did not include the traditional Medicare option.

Last November, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney unveiled his own premium-support plan and vowed that future seniors could still opt for fee-for-service. A month later, Ryan teamed up with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to include a similar promise. Romney and fellow GOP contender Newt Gingrich lauded the proposal. Romney’s toughest competitor on the campaign trail, Rick Santorum, though, said he would abolish fee-for-service Medicare.

Still, said Drew Altman, president of the foundation, how candidates couch the fee-for-service promise could make a difference in campaigns. In the poll, various ways of wording the question – raising issues like the solvency of Medicare or the increased power of insurance companies — changed support for reform significantly.

"The debate will definitely be moved by arguments of both sides," Altman said. "Public opinion on premium support buy-in starts off in a negative place, but is malleable and where it ends up depends on how the debate unfolds."

Responses were mixed for other proposals to change Medicare:

  • RAISING THE ELIGIBILITY AGE. Americans were roughly split when it comes to raising Medicare’s eligibility age gradually from 65 to 67. The widely discussed proposal wouldn’t affect current seniors, who were its biggest supporters. Sixty-three percent of those over age 65 backed raising the eligibility age, while only 43 percent of those under 50 did.
  • INCOME-LINKED PREMIUMS. A majority of respondents (54 percent) favored limiting premium increases to high income seniors. Fewer Republicans (46 percent) supported the approach.
  • INCREASING PREMIUMS FOR ALL. There was little support across-the-board for raising premiums for all seniors.

Despite great public interest in the Medicare and contraception issues, the poll indicated that the economy is still the dominant voting issue at this time. But 23 percent of respondents said that they would only vote for a candidate who shared their views on Medicare. 

And Democrats have gained some ground on Medicare with seniors in this poll. "Democrats have always had the advantage on Medicare, but they used to have the advantage with seniors as well," said Brodie. In late 2010, however, Republican congressional candidates hammered their Democratic opponents by claiming that their vote for the health law cut $500 billion out of Medicare. (The Ryan budget that passed the House last year also proposed $500 billion in Medicare savings.)

Republicans won control of the House in that election, and polls showed that Democrats had lost the support of seniors on the issue of Medicare. In the new poll, 43 percent of seniors said they trusted Democrats more to handle Medicare, while 36 percent placed their trust in Republicans.

The survey of 1,519 adults was conducted between Feb. 13 and Feb. 18. The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

Source: Poll: Most Americans Support Contraception Rule – KHN


See also EDITORIAL: A Bad Amendment Defeated, The New York Times Editorial, March 2, 2012, reads:

Only one Senate Republican — Olympia Snowe of Maine, who is retiring — voted against a truly horrible measure on Thursday that would have crippled the expansion of preventive health care in America. The amendment, which was attached to a highway bill, was defeated on a narrow 48-to-51 vote. But it showed once again how far from the mainstream Republicans have strayed in their relentless efforts to undermine the separation of church and state, deny women access to essential health services and tear apart President Obama’s health care reform law.

The amendment, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, would have allowed any employer or insurance company to refuse coverage for any activity to which they claim a religious or moral objection.

That would have meant that any employer who objects to cervical-cancer vaccines could have refused to provide health insurance that covers them. The same goes for prenatal sonograms for unmarried mothers, or birth control, H.I.V. screening or mammograms.

Health care reform, for the first time, required virtually all insurance policies to cover a package of preventive services without co-payments, including flu shots, pap smears and prenatal care. In August, after an Institute of Medicine recommendation, the Obama administration expanded that list to include birth control and screening for H.I.V. and cervical cancer, among other services. . . .

See also Senate Rejects Step Targeting Coverage of Contraception, by Robert Pear, New York Times, March 1, 2012:

Illustrating the political power of the issue, Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, moved quickly on Wednesday to clarify a comment that he was against the Republican plan by Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri. Mr. Romney said that he had misunderstood the question and that he supported Mr. Blunt’s proposal. . . .

See also President Obama’s Birth Control Solution Balances Religious Freedom and Women’s Health, Melissa Rogers, Nonresident Senior Fellow,Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution, February 10, 2012, writes:

President Obama and his administration deserve great credit for implementing a solution that honors free exercise rights and fairness. I deeply appreciate the fact that the White House has taken the religious community’s concerns so seriously.

Under the revised rule, no religious employer that objects to providing contraceptives and sterilization services will have to pay for or provide coverage for it.  The plan rightly recognizes that the government should not force religious communities to pay for or provide services forbidden by their faith.  Also, no objecting religious employer will be required to make referrals for services to which they object. This will remove any burden on the free exercise rights of religious employers. At the same time, employees of objecting religious hospitals, universities, and social service agencies will have access to these important benefits directly from insurers. These benefits strengthen health and families and help to reduce the number of abortions. . . .

See also Obama’s Accomodations to Religious Institutions – The Quiet Resolution of an ‘Ab Initio’ Non-Issue

See also The Republican Conundrum

Copyright protected: All Rights Reserved by M. Ulric Killion, 2012.



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