Seniors disapprove of Obamacare at higher rates than other influential voting blocs and their opinion of the law could sway which political party they support in the midterm elections, according to a Republican poll shared with the Washington Examiner.
The national survey of seniors, conducted by the Tarrance Group for American Action Network, found that 57 percent of voters 65 and over have a “negative view” of President Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, while only 35 percent have a “positive view.” Seniors' disapproval of the law is 5 percentage points higher than the national average; their approval is four points lower.
The poll also revealed that cuts to the Medicare Advantage program could drive seniors' negative opinion of Obamacare even higher. The Obama administration recently announced that it would reduce funds for the program as a part of the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
In the survey, 54 percent of respondents disapproved of the cuts and 59 percent said they would be less likely to support a Democratic congressional candidate who supported Obamacare “despite the fact that it cuts Medicare Advantage.” The poll tested various messages related to the Affordable Care Act and Medicare Advantage in an attempt to gauge its political impact with seniors in the November elections.
“These cuts go over like a lead balloon. Not only do a majority of seniors oppose the [Medicare Advantage] cuts, they also want to hold the politicians accountable that enacted them,” said Dan Conston, a spokesman for American Action Network, a conservative-leaning 501(c)4 organization.
Under Medicare Advantage, seniors sign up for policies that are offered by private insurance companies but subsidized by the federal government. The Obama administration is proposing to cut the subsidy that it would pay out in 2015, potentially driving up premiums or reducing the companies that participate and the options they provide.
The poll for American Action Network surveyed 806 likely voters, ages 65 and up, Feb. 16-20. It had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Among the poll’s key findings:
• President Obama’s job approval among seniors was 36 percent, with a disapproval of 57 percent.
• Seniors expressed favorable opinions of Medicare (86 percent) and the Medicare prescription drug program (73 percent), with only 9 percent disapproving. Medicare Advantage received a 48 percent approval, 21 percent disapproval rating.
• Of the 26 percent of those polled who said they accessed a Medicare Advantage plan, 67 percent had a favorable opinion of the program. That number rose to 71 percent among those who also had prescription drug coverage.
• By a margin of 42 percent to 37 percent, seniors said they trusted congressional Republicans more than Obama and the Democrats on “the issue of health care.”