AP-GfK Poll: Most see health law being implemented

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Gardner thinks expanding coverage will cost too much and may make it harder to get an appointment with a doctor. Besides, she doesn’t believe the government can handle the job. She’s covered by Medicare _ a government-run health system _ but says “that wasn’t a choice that I had.”

At 26, Santa Monica, Calif., web developer Vyki Englert has only bare-bones health insurance coverage. Her parents, a preschool teacher and a self-employed photographer, are uninsured. Englert says she thinks the law will largely go into effect as passed. (Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 60 percent think it will be implemented with only minor changes or none at all.)

Englert says that she supports guaranteeing coverage to people with health problems and that provisions such as broader coverage for birth control will help younger women such as her.

“I kind of see a day-to-day way where this law could benefit me,” she said. Englert says the health care law dovetails with a trend toward consumerism in her generation. Older Americans “don’t have the context of the young people,” she added. “They are looking more at the theoretical impact on the budget and the country.”

Overall, the poll found Americans divided on repeal, with neither side able to claim a majority. Forty-nine percent said the health care law should be repealed completely, while 44 percent said it should be implemented as written.

The notion that the law will be implemented with changes, captured in the poll, mirrors a discussion behind the scenes in Washington, particularly among some Republicans.

“Whoever wins the election, the (health care law) is going to be modified,” Mark McClellan, who ran Medicare under former President George W. Bush, said in a recent interview.

Congressional Republicans say if tax increases are on the table in budget negotiations with a re-elected Obama, changes to the health care law or delays in implementation are also fair game.

Some parts of the law already are in effect; its big push to cover the uninsured doesn’t come until 2014.

Public opinion about the law itself has barely budged since 2010, soon after it passed. At the time, 30 percent supported it. That’s now 32 percent. And 40 percent opposed the overhaul. That’s now 36 percent.

Misconceptions about the law that reigned two years ago live on, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s widely debunked charge that it would create “death panels” to decide on care for the elderly and disabled. In 2010, 39 percent believed the law would set up committees to review individual medical records and decide who gets care paid for by the government. Forty-one percent still hold that view, according to the poll.

The poll asked people to say whether 18 different items were in the law or not and to rate how certain they were about their answers. Just 14 percent were right most of the time and sure of it.

Still, knowledge about what the law actually does is growing. More people are aware of provisions that allow adult children to stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26, impose insurance mandates on individuals and businesses, and protect those with pre-existing medical conditions.

The poll was conducted Aug. 3-13 and involved interviews with 1,334 randomly chosen adults nationwide. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The survey was conducted online by GfK using its KnowledgePanel sample, which first chose people for the study using randomly generated telephone numbers and home addresses. Once people were selected to participate, they were interviewed online. Participants without Internet access were provided it for free.

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