Support for Health Care Overhaul Falls

Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 45 percent have an unfavorable opinion.

ByHuma Khan
August 31, 2010, 1:46 PM

Aug. 31, 2010— -- Fewer than half of Americans have a favorable view of the health care measures that President Obama signed into law in March, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation survey released today.

About 43 percent of Americans favor the landmark law, while 45 percent view it unfavorably, the survey found. The public perception improved slightly from the summer but has since then fallen to its May level.

The survey found that Americans are split on how the new health care law would impact them: Twenty-nine percent thought they would be better off under the new law -- a new low in Kaiser's polling since February 2009 -- while 30 percent expected to be worse off. Fifty-one of those polled said they were disappointed in the health care law.

Democrats had hoped to turn the negative impressions that arose during health care discussions earlier this year into positive momentum, going into November's general election. But that has yet to be the case.

Indeed, Republicans not only continue to hammer Democrats and the White House on the costs of the bill, but some are still vowing to repeal it.

The Kaiser survey found 34 percent of Americans are more likely to oppose a candidate who backed the law, 31 percent are more likely to support that candidate; and 33 percent said it won't affect their vote at all. The one-third split has remained fairly stable, according to Kaiser.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the numbers are reflective of the misinformation that has been spread about the health care bill, and that the administration has "a lot of reeducation to do" to reverse the trend.

"Unfortunately, there still is a great deal of confusion about what is in [the health care law] and what isn't," Sebelius told ABC News Radio's Steven Portnoy Monday. "We have a lot of reeducation to do."

Favorable View of Health Care Down

The survey found that cost was also a concern to the public.

"Americans are most likely to perceive health reform as heading for success when it comes to covering more of the nation's uninsured, but are much less sure it will succeed in reducing the amount the country, or they themselves, spend on health care," the report said.

But health care is still not the chief topic of concern among voters. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed by Kaiser said the "direction of the nation as a whole" was a chief motivator behind who they would pick as their representative or senator.

The first changes under the new health care law will start rolling out in September, affecting a range of issues that includes coverage of pre-existing conditions and the maximum age children can remain on their parents' health care plans. But not all Americans should expect to see the changes right away.

Insurance companies are obligated to include the new measures when health insurance policies are renewed, starting on or after Sept. 23, 2010. Which means that if an insurance policy is renewed on Sept. 1, those covered under the policy may not be eligible for the changes under the new law until Sept. 1, 2011.

Additionally, several provisions may vary, depending on where people live. The definition of high-risk pools varies from state to state, for example, as do the limits on how much insurance companies can raise their premiums.

ABC News' Gary Langer contributed to this report.

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