CHICAGO — A new poll released by the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that Alaska voters have a low opinion of the House-passed health system reform bill and are strongly opposed to numerous provisions of the health system reform bill currently being considered by the Senate. The poll also shows strong support for Medicaid and overwhelming opposition to reducing spending on the program — as the House and Senate bills would do.
While the House and Senate bills target the growth of Medicaid, respondents overwhelmingly view the program favorably (56 percent) or neutral (18 percent). Only 19 percent of voters view it unfavorably. Additionally, although both the House and Senate health reform bills would roll back Medicaid expansion and cut Medicaid spending, 36 percent of respondents want to increase Medicaid funding in Alaska, 40 percent want it to remain unchanged, and only 17 percent want it decreased.
Reflecting the wide range of Americans covered by Medicaid and the large role it plays in insuring the sick, elderly and children, 60 percent of respondents said either they themselves, someone in their household or someone they know is covered by Medicaid.
“If either of the health reform bills in Congress were to become law, not only would millions of Americans lose their insurance coverage, but many more would have higher — perhaps unaffordable — deductibles and copayments that will discourage them from seeking the care they need,” said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D. “Alaskans are not only overwhelmingly opposed to the current reform proposals, but they are opposed to many of the major provisions on which they are built. Both the Senate and House bills as currently drafted violate the important principle ‘first, do no harm.’ It is clear that changes are needed to our health system and that a bipartisan approach is necessary to achieve those results. Alaskans agree that the proposals currently before Congress are a massive step in the wrong direction.”
Below are additional findings regarding provisions of health system reform proposals:
- Respondents overwhelmingly support (87 percent) allowing insurance to be bought across state lines;
- The poll shows that 56 percent of registered voters oppose cuts to the federal funding that states receive under the ACA to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income adults who were uninsured. Thirty-three percent support this;
- Fifty-five percent of respondents oppose eliminating the ACA requirement that all health plans sold must provide a standard set of government-established benefits, including mental health services, addiction treatment, and maternity care, and that provides preventive health services with no out-of-pocket costs. Thirty-eight percent of respondents support this change;
- Alaskans strongly oppose (56 percent to 35 percent) a change to the ACA that would allow insurance companies to charge consumers higher premium rates if they have pre-existing conditions and allowed their coverage to lapse.
- About half of the respondents (52 percent) oppose eliminating the money that the federal government pays to health insurance companies to provide lower deductibles and lower out-of-pocket health care costs for low-income people. The poll shows that 35 percent support it.
The poll shows respondents are evenly divided on whether the ACA is a good idea, with 44 percent saying it is and 43 percent calling it a bad idea. In contrast, a majority (51 percent) of voters think the House bill is a bad idea, only 18 percent say it’s a good idea, and 29 percent do not have an opinion. A majority of Alaska voters (60 percent) want the Senate to either make major changes to the House bill before passing it (24 percent) or think the Senate should not pass any part of the House legislation (36 percent).
Yesterday, the AMA expressed its opposition to the Senate’s proposed health care bill based on its health system reform objectives — primary among them that people who currently have insurance, including Medicaid coverage, should not become uninsured.
Public Opinion Strategies conducted the statewide telephone survey of 500 registered voters. The sample was drawn from the voter file proportional to the statewide registered voter population. The survey was conducted June 15-20, and has a margin of error of +4.38 percent. Complete interview schedules are available here.
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