A major new public opinion survey on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid, and other key health issues (done by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard School of Public Health -- including my colleague Robert Blendon) is chock full of important and compelling findings. Let's look at some:
1. Though Americans continue to have mixed feelings about the ACA, they increasingly support implementation of the law's primary pillars. For example:
-- On the ACA, while 52% agree that opponents of the ACA should continue trying to change the law or stop it, with strong differences between Democrats and Republicans, fully 86% of Americans say that "creating a health insurance exchange or marketplace" is an important or top priority.
-- 65% say that "expanding Medicaid" is a top or important priority.
2. Despite support for reducing the federal deficit, Americans care want to protect Medicare AND Medicaid AND the ACA's insurance subsidies. For example:
-- In all, 52% want to "expand Medicaid to cover more low income people" versus 42% who want to "keep Medicaid as it is today." Six in ten Americans say Medicaid is important to their own family, with 38% calling it "very important."
-- While most Americans want to reduce federal spending and the budget deficit, 91% want no or only minor reductions in Medicare; 83% want the same for Medicaid; 74% feel the same way about the ACA's health insurance subsidies; and 88% feel this way about Social Security.
-- Fully 60% of respondents agree with the statement that "Medicare is working well," and that includes 80% of seniors who feel this way. Only 24% believe that Medicare "is not working well" and only 15% of seniors feel that way.
-- Completely bucking Beltway conventional wisdom, 75% of respondents believe the budget deficit can be addressed without changing Medicare. And by 51 to 48%, respondents oppose raising the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to age 67.
3. While Americans do not know what to do about it, they get the importance and dangers of the obesity epidemic:
-- The percentage calling obesity one of the greatest health threats to Americans increased from 6 to 26% between 2007 and 2013;
-- The percentage feeling the same way about diabetes increased from 14 to 30% during the same time frame.
-- AIDS/HIV has taken the greatest drop in Americans attention, dropping from 32 to 10% between 2007 and 2013.
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