Poll: Obama tops Romney by double digits on healthcare

By Sam Baker - 07/31/12 10:54 AM ET

President Obama holds a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney on healthcare issues, according to the latest tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Although public opinion on Obama's signature healthcare law remains negative, voters say Obama would do a better job "dealing with the future" of the law. They also trust him more than Romney with Medicare, Medicaid and on the issue of lowering healthcare costs.

Obama has a 10-point advantage over Romney on Medicaid and cost control, and an 11-point lead on Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, the Kaiser poll found.

The differences between the two candidates are stark: Romney has pledged to repeal Obama's healthcare law, despite signing nearly identical reforms into law as governor of Massachusetts. Romney also wants to partially privatize Medicare and convert Medicaid into a block-grant program.

Support for the Affordable Care Act, though, hasn't moved much in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision upholding the law. In the latest tracking poll, 44 percent of those surveyed said they have an unfavorable view of the law, while 38 percent have a favorable view.

Those figures have held roughly steady since the law passed in 2010.

Although healthcare has proven to be a salient issue with the Republican base, the Kaiser tracking poll indicates that independent voters are skeptical of the GOP agenda.

Fifty-five percent of independents said they oppose cutting off the law's funding as a way of stopping it from taking effect, the survey found. A majority of independent voters — 56 percent — also said they're "tired of hearing lawmakers debate the health care law and would like them to move on to other issues."

Kaiser's last tracking poll, conducted in the immediate wake of the Supreme Court's healthcare decision, also found little appetite among independents for continuing the healthcare wars.

But many Republicans seem determined to press on. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he wanted to vote on healthcare repeal as an amendment to the Senate's cybersecurity bill. The House voted earlier this month to repeal the law, and has cast more than 30 repeal or defunding votes since Republicans won the majority in 2010.

The House Tea Party Caucus, led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), said after the Supreme Court's ruling that it still wants a funding fight this year.

The more practical battleground over the Affordable Care Act, at least for now, exists in the states, where governors must decide whether to participate in the healthcare law's Medicaid expansion.

The law expands eligibility for the program, and the federal government will pay the entire cost for the first few years, but some GOP governors are adamantly opposed to implementing any part of "ObamaCare."

Again, according to the latest Kaiser poll, independent voters seem to be siding with Democrats. Sixty-seven percent of independents said they have a favorable view of the Medicaid expansion; only 28 percent view it unfavorably. Republican voters are staunchly opposed — 87 percent have an unfavorable view of the expansion.

The Kaiser poll was conducted July 17 to 23 and has a 3-point margin of error.


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