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Opinion polls: Obama's health care reform law not a winner so far

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Quality of care. Forty-four percent anticipate that the quality of their care will decline as a result of the reforms, while only 18 percent expect healthcare quality to rise, the Washington Post survey found. Similarly, 49 percent in a Rasmussen Reports survey said they think the quality of care will be adversely affected. In response to a more general question, 39 percent of respondents in a CNN/Opinion Research poll say they expect the law would make them and their family worse off, while 22 percent said "better off."

Size of government. Nearly half of Americans say the law "creates too much government involvement in the nation's health care system," according to the Washington Post poll, while 35 percent say the government role will be "about right." In the USA Today/Gallup poll, 65 percent said the law "will expand government's role in health care too much." Still, views on this subject are nuanced, with the same poll showing 51 percent saying the law doesn't go far enough in regulating health insurers, and 52 percent saying it should make a "public option" insurance plan available to all.

The political process. A 53 percent majority called Democratic methods used to pass the law "an abuse of power," according to the USA Today/Gallup survey. (The reconciliation process circumvented the potential for a Republican fililbuster and allowed passage with a simple majority of the Senate.) Forty percent had no problem with the methods.

If these results make health reform sound like a Pyrrhic victory for Obama, consider also that Americans are now well aware of the complexity of the medical-system challenge. Two mitigating themes have emerged in earlier polls: Americans don't see the status quo as a good option, and they support a number of specific ideas in Obama's plan.

In a February Newsweek poll, for instance, a strong majority supported requiring insurance companies to cover people regardless of any preexisting health condition, and setting up a government-regulated "exchange" on which individuals can buy coverage at more competitive rates. Americans are also open to a mandate on individuals to buy coverage (with government subsidies available) if they are currently uninsured. That idea garnered 59 percent support in the Newsweek poll and 45 percent support in a February CNN/Opinion Research poll.

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