Poll: Health Law Support Dips on Budget Woes

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The American people's concern over the federal budget deficits is driving down support for President Obama's healthcare overhaul.

In a new Associated Gress-GfK poll, 45 percent of voters oppose the legislation, 17 percent were neutral, and 35 percent support it, which is the lowest approval rating since Congress passed the bill last year.

The survey also showed the new health care law isn't popular with seniors.

Fifty-nine percent of seniors oppose the new health care law, while only 29 percent support it. Disapproval of Obama's handling of health care among seniors has ticked upward to 62 percent, while Republicans are more trusted than Democrats to handle the issue, by a 51 percent to 36 percent margin.

Obama is scheduled to deliver a major speech Wednesday night that will lay out his path for reducing deficits.

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is proposing to convert Medicare into a "premium support" program. Instead of traditional Medicare, people now 54 and younger would get a fixed payment, or voucher, from the government to buy private health insurance when they retire. Medicaid, which serves low-income people, would be turned over to the states as a block grant program. Both programs serve about 100 million Americans.

The adminstration's Medicare chief Donald Berwick said he wished "the tempo of the law were faster," so that Americans could experience the benefits of coverage for virtually all residents and payment changes to reward doctors and hospitals for quality care, not the volume of tests and procedures.

"We are not going to take your care away. We are going to make it better," Berwick said. "The public will notice as we make health care better, but that takes time."

The Associated Press-GfK poll was conducted March 24 - 28 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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