Few change opinion of health care reform

WASHINGTON -- Health care reform is the law of the land, but that hasn't changed Nevadans' generally negative views of the big changes in medical insurance, according to a poll conducted for the Review-Journal.

The poll by Washington, D.C.-based Mason Dixon Polling & Research showed 39 percent of Nevadans support the health reform law while 52 percent oppose it.

That is little change from January, when 35 percent were in favor and 54 percent were against, said Brad Coker, the polling firm's managing director.

Also largely unchanged is Nevadans' view of President Barack Obama. The new poll, conducted April 5-7, showed 41 percent have a positive opinion while 46 percent were negative toward the president.

In a February poll, Obama was recognized favorably by 39 percent, while his unfavorable rating was 46 percent.

Between January and April, Obama and congressional Democrats recovered from the loss of a key U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, overcame differences among their members in the House and Senate, and launched a final drive to push the legislation through Congress and to the president's desk, where he signed it on March 23.

All the while, proponents called attention to provisions that will make health insurance more patient-friendly while allowing 32 million Americans to gain coverage. Critics, on the other hand, warned of pain ahead in the form of higher costs, deeper deficits and a larger government role in health care.

"All the hullaballoo didn't seem to move public opinion a whole lot," Coker said. "The theory was that once it passed, people would embrace it, but that obviously is not taking place."

Coker said he did not believe the numbers would change much over time as various parts of the law take effect. A majority of people, he contended, will not be affected greatly by the changes.

"I do not see how people suddenly are going to shift their opinion," he said.

Among independent voters, a key bloc in this year's elections, 38 percent favored the health law while 57 percent opposed it, according to the poll. 

Coker said that thumbs-down assessment offers clues to the performance of Democratic candidates such as incumbents Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Dina Titus who helped get it passed. Both Reid and Titus trail Republican challengers in polling of their races.

The Mason-Dixon poll was conducted Monday through Wednesday. A total of 625 registered Nevada voters were inter­viewed by telephone. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Contact Stephens Media Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault at stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.