Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has narrowed the gap with President Obama among likely voters on a number of health care issues, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released Wednesday, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
The poll surveyed 1,215 adults and was conducted between Oct. 18 and Oct. 23 (Galewitz, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 10/31).
According to the survey, 46% of respondents said they trust Obama to do a better job with the future of Medicare, compared with 41% who trust Romney.
That is a significant shift from September, when 52% said they trust Obama to do a better job with the future of Medicare, compared with 36% who trusted Romney more (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 10/31). The October poll found that among elderly U.S. residents, 48% preferred Romney on Medicare, while 43% favored Obama ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 10/31).
However, the poll found that 61% of likely voters favored keeping Medicare's fee-for-service system as it is, rather than turning it into a premium-support program, which Romney supports. Elderly U.S. residents were most opposed to the idea of switching to a premium-support model, with 72% saying they are against changing the system. Among voters ages 18 to 54, 58% opposed changing Medicare
The poll also found that Obama's lead over Romney on other health care issues has narrowed since September. For example:
- 48% of respondents trust Obama more in determining the future of the Affordable Care Act, compared with 40% who trust Romney more;
- 46% trust Obama more to lower health care costs, compared with 39% who trust Romney more; and
- 46% trust Obama more in determining the future of the Medicaid program, compared with 39% who trust Romney more (CQ HealthBeat, 10/31).
In each case, Obama's lead declined from at least 16 percentage points in September to single digits in October ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 10/31).
However, Obama still maintains a large lead on women's reproductive health choices and services. The poll found that 51% of likely voters trust Obama more on that issue, compared with 33% who trust Romney more.
Health Care Issues 'Extremely' Important To Voters
Although the economy and jobs remained the most important issues among likely voters, 37% said the ACA was "extremely" important, while 36% and 30% said the same about Medicare and Medicaid, respectively, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Voters More Aware of Presidential Nominees' Health Reform Plans
The October poll also showed voters' knowledge of the presidential nominees' plans for the ACA and Medicare has grown, with 30% of respondents saying they are very familiar and 46% saying they are somewhat familiar with Obama's plans for the ACA and Medicare.
Meanwhile, 19% said they are very familiar and 40% reported being somewhat familiar with Romney's plans (CQ HealthBeat, 10/31).
Full Repeal Would Be Unconstitutional, JAMA Piece States
Although Romney has said repealing the ACA is a top priority, any attempt to unilaterally repeal the law would be unconstitutional, according to an article published online Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Los Angeles Times' "Science Now" reports.
In the article, Lawrence Gostin and John Kraemer, lawyers and professors at Georgetown University, write that the Constitution requires the president to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
However, Gostin and Kraemer note that Romney could refuse to extend the subsidies to individuals shopping on a federal exchange and not a state-run exchange because of an oversight in the wording of the ACA. Romney also could order the Internal Revenue Service not to collect the penalty for individuals who failed to purchase health insurance, which would effectively eliminate the law's individual mandate, they write.
They conclude, "Repeal of the ACA or blanket state waivers are unlikely given the political and constitutional landscape. Still, if a President Romney or a Republican-controlled Congress remained determined to do so, there would be ample opportunity to slow or block full ACA implementation" (Kaplan, "Science Now," Los Angeles Times, 10/30).