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Seniors' Negative Turn on Health Care Reform

Of the several demographic and political groups whose views on health care reform have become more negative over the summer, seniors stand out for both a dramatic shift against reform and the strength of their opposition.

In the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll on health care, those age 65 and over were more apt than their younger counterparts to call health care reform unnecessary, to say they disapprove of the way President Obama's handling the issue, and to oppose the proposed changes in general and the creation of a public option specifically.

The crosstabs below provide a deeper look at shifting views on health care among the youngest and the oldest.

Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling health care?

          -- Approve ---   - Disapprove -
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
8/17/09   46       27      50       42
7/18/09   49       25      44       33
6/21/09   53       27      39       29

Age 18-29:
          -- Approve ---   - Disapprove -
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
8/17/09   57       23      39       30
7/18/09   62       30      33       20
6/21/09   66       24      27       19

Age 65+:
          -- Approve ---   - Disapprove -
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
8/17/09   35       21      59       53
7/18/09   52       23      41       36
6/21/09   49       29      41       33

Q. Overall, given what you know about them, would you say you support or oppose the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by Congress and the Obama administration? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

          -- Support ---   --- Oppose ---
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
8/17/09   45       27      50       40

18-29     58       24      39       24
65 and up 34       22      59       50

Q. Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

          -- Support ---   --- Oppose ---
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
8/17/09   52       33      46       35
6/21/09   62       NA      33       NA

Age 18-29:

8/17/09   61       35      38       24
6/21/09   71       NA      26       NA

Age 65+:

8/17/09   33       21      62       53
6/21/09   46       NA      47       NA

Q. Just your best guess, if the health care system is changed, do you think the quality of your health care will get better, get worse, or remain about the same?

          Better   Worse   Same
8/17/09     19      33      47
6/21/09     16      31      50

Age 18-29:

8/17/09     28      19      53
6/21/09     15      22      61

Age 65+:

8/17/09      8      42      47
6/21/09     11      37      47

Q. Which comes closer to the way you feel: government reform of the nation's health care system is necessary to control costs and expand coverage, or government action on health care will do more harm than good?

          - Necessary --   More harm/good
          NET   Strongly   NET   Strongly
8/17/09   51       35      46       35
6/21/09   58       34      39       24

Age 18-29:

8/17/09   59       28      37       21
6/21/09   59       27      39       14

Age 65+:

8/17/09   39       31      55       48
6/21/09   48       30      46       31

Q. Say a candidate for Congress supports the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by (Congress) and (the Obama administration). Would that make you more likely to support that candidate for Congress, more likely to oppose that candidate, or wouldn't it make much difference in your vote?

          -Support--   --Oppose--    No
          NET   Much   NET   Much   diff.
8/17/09   23     14    32     26     43

18-29     20      8    22     16     55
65 and up 19     12    44     37     33

Q. How would you describe your feelings about the changes to the health care system being proposed by Congress and the Obama administration, would you say you are enthusiastic about them, satisfied but not enthusiastic, dissatisfied but not angry, or angry about them?

          -- Enthusiastic/Satisfied --   -- Dissatisfied/Angry --
          NET  Enthusiastic  Satisfied   NET  Dissatisfied  Angry
8/17/09   47        15           32      50        31        18

18-29     59        13           46      39        29        11
65 and up 36         8           27      57        27        29

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  August 28, 2009; 6:25 PM ET
Categories:  Crosstabs , Health care  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Political Views Prove a Sharp Divider on Energy Policy
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The elderly have lost their minds. I blame the republicans for lying to grandma and the democrats for not assuaging her fears.

Posted by: onifadee | August 28, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't surprise me, and in fact, parallels what my elderly parents and aunts and uncles are feeling (which includes buyers' remorse for those who voted for Obama). The second that Obama said that he was cutting Medicare, he lost seniors, who are savvy enough to realize that when their doctors' reimbursements are cut, they will have fewer doctors available to them. And all the elderly in my extended family who have Medicare Advantage like the program.

The elderly are always suspicious that the young and healthy, who are making the decisions about health care reform, will de-value them and not fully understand how dependent they are on their health care providers and how they worry about not being to have providers readily available to them. Almost all of them are concerned that adding millions and millions of new patients will mean that they will have to wait longer for appointments for doctors they've been seeing for years. When you're 20, 30, or even 40 years old, that's not much of an issue for you, but when you're 80, it is. I think Obama completely misread how seniors would react, and now he's paying the price.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 28, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Confuse the hell out of us (72) and then wonder at the confusion. Shame on all you party players both democrat and republican. I curse you to become one of us soon.

Posted by: eaglehawkaroundsince1937 | August 28, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

And the majority of those 65 and older don't realize that Medicare is a Government run health care system.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | August 28, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

I suppose this is the perfect time to continue my campaign for: a maximum age for voting and for driving.

Fear (ginned up by corporate money and too much television) seems to dominate the lives of our elderly. By the way, I'm 66 and I will support any movement within my state to take away my vote and my driver's license at 75 or 80.

Posted by: rusty3 | August 28, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Well of course: those over 65 don't need health insurance reform because they ALREADY HAVE A PUBLIC OPTION -- they all have Medicare. So to heck with all those youngsters and their imagined aches and pains.

Posted by: netgotham1 | August 28, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry now that I vigorously protested Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. In my zeal to protect the elderly in this country I didn't realize that they would in turn just tell the younger generations to go pound sand. It's the very last time I will come to the defense of the elderly in this country.

Posted by: khoreia | August 28, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

HEY Khorela ! - The elderly paid ALL OF THEIR LIVES ,and so did many of their brothers and sisters that never collected for the SOCIAL SECURITY that you scumbags hope to take away and would rather see go to diseased ILLEGAL ALIENS ! If you really want to kill somebody ... GO KILL YOURSELF .

Posted by: noHUCKABEEnoVOTE | August 28, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

One needs only to look at the recent article at by Ezekiel Emanuel, 'Principles of Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions.' to understand why many senior citizens are against 'Obamacare'. Dr. Emanuel plainly states that under his recommended medical resource rationing scheme, seniors would have their access to medical interventions severely limited as compared to younger citizens. Dr. Emanuel calls his rationing plan the Complete Lives System.

Here's a direct quote from the article:

"When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated."

A graph from the paper illustrating this concept is available at the following link:

Think about it, --where do YOU fall on that curve?!

Posted by: jshay | August 28, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Many older people over 60 are in a survival mode. For whatever reason they don't have private pensions, union benefits, etc. If they are homeowners, every year taxes, insurance, health care, food, utilities are going up. If they are not home owners, their situation is even more precarious.

Older people would be much more receptive to government health care if it was universal health care for everybody - such as in Europe. Obamacare does not even begin to resemble universal health care.

Older people have been around the block a few times. They have seen their share of con men and crooked politicians. They tend to be more cautious and suspicious than younger people. They usually don't buy anything sight unseen. It's called common sense, which unfortunately is not very common.

Posted by: alance | August 28, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse you just make these "facts" up? Just so you know, from the moment Medicare is in your life, you know it's a government program.

Start with the 140 page manual (large font) and the CARDBOARD card you must carry with you at all times. And by the way, it is just a little bit larger than all the other (PLASTIC) cards you carry, so it doesn't fit in your wallet.

And did you think it was free? You really don't have a clue. Some Drs don't take Medicare because the payments the government makes are so little? (and have been reduced many times already). Do you know that there is a Medicare Part A...Part B....Part C....Part D. (None are free, by the way.) Do you know about the deductibles? Part A - $1068 per year - you pay $267 per day hospital...

Nearly everyone buys a supplemental quote as a 65 yr old female non smoker - approx $125 a month - (that can go up each year).

Medicare doesn't cover nursing homes (unless you meet tough guidelines), vision or hearing tests or glasses/hearing aids, the first 3 pints of blood (?), drugs etc.

You know from the moment you're enrolled (not on your 65th birthday - because that would be too easy) and you get your card...(you know, the cardboard one that's bigger than your drivers license and credit cards)...and your medicare number (magically, it's the same as your social security number with a letter behind it..)this is your government at work!.

Think DMV and you'll be close!

You really ought not to make unfounded generalizations about a population you clearly don't know anything about! Now go wash your mouth out with soap and say nicer things about your elders from now on! And stop making faces or it will freeze that way!

P.S. My RX for The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw

Posted by: realsenior | August 28, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Q. Do you understand the way you have been misinformed about health care reform?

-- Approve --- - Disapprove -
NET Strongly NET Strongly
8/17/09 100 ?? 100 ??
7/18/09 100 ?? 100 ??
6/21/09 100 ?? 100 ??


IMO - these poll questions don't model real knowledge

Posted by: ryan_heart | August 28, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Well the over-65 elderly have Medicare!

Of course they like things the way they are!

Posted by: ottoparts | August 29, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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