By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

Amid a budget debate that will affect the health care of virtually every family, a new poll finds support for President Barack Obama’s overhaul at its lowest level since passage last year.

 

But in a ringing defense of Obama’s policies, Medicare chief Donald Berwick pleaded Tuesday for more time on the health care law, and branded a leading Republican plan “unfair and harmful” and “a form of withholding care.”

 

The Associated Press-GfK poll showed that support for Obama’s expansion of health insurance coverage has slipped to 35 percent, while opposition stands at 45 percent and another 17 percent are neutral. That nearly ties the previous low in September 2009, when after a summer of heated town hall meetings dominated by critics, only 34 percent supported Obama’s approach.

 

The worry this time appears to be federal budget deficits driven by unmanageable health care costs. Among seniors, whose views are critical in any debate over health care, support for the law dipped below 30 percent for the first time in AP-GfK polling.

 

Obama is scheduled to deliver a major speech Wednesday that will lay out his path for reducing deficits. While administration officials have acknowledged the need for more savings from Medicare and Medicaid, congressional Republicans have offered a bold alternative to tackle health care costs.

 

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. Taken together, the programs serve about 100 million Americans.

 

Berwick, who oversees Medicare and Medicaid as well as the rollout of the new health care law, told Associated Press reporters and editors Tuesday that the Republican approach would set back efforts to improve quality and squeeze waste.

 

It would be like “giving people a sum of money and saying, ‘Good luck, God bless you,’” Berwick said during an hour-long interview. “That’s not about improving care. That’s about shifting burdens.”

 

Ryan says his plan will save Medicare from bankruptcy, and market competition will bring down costs without compromising quality.

 

A pediatrician, Berwick is well-known in the medical community as an advocate for better quality. But in Washington, he has become one of the most controversial administration figures. His statements as an academic praising the British health care system brought him under suspicion from Republicans, who accused him of favoring rationing. Despite his denials, Berwick’s confirmation has been blocked in the Senate, and he may have to leave the job by the end of this year.

 

The political uncertainty didn’t stop him from a full defense of the new health care law. He lamented that the administration has not been able to convince the public that the complex legislation will improve quality and reduce costs over time.

 

They are in a “psychological trap, where nothing looks good,” he said. “The public’s smart. They’re going to wait for the results before they actually change their minds.”

 

If anything, 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.”

 

On Tuesday, the Obama administration began a national program to improve safety in hospitals, which are rife with infections and opportunities for medical mistakes.

 

The new Partnership for Patients will help hospitals adopt proven strategies to reduce those problems dramatically, with the goal of preventing nearly 2 million patient injuries and saving more than 60,000 lives over the next three years. If it works, it could save Medicare $10 billion over that period.

 

The poll showed the administration’s message isn’t getting through, particularly 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.

 

By contrast, among adults of all ages, Obama’s approval rating on health care stands at 52 percent, and 53 percent say they trust Democrats to do a better job.

 

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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Deputy polling director Jennifer Agiesta and Associated Press writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.

 

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Online:  http://ap-gfkpoll.com

 

 

 

How the poll was conducted

 

By The Associated Press

 

The Associated Press-GfK Poll on health care was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from March 24-28. It is based on landline and cell phone telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,001 adults. Interviews were conducted with 701 respondents on landline telephones and 300 on cell phones.

 

Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed landline and cell phone numbers.

 

Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

 

As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses accurately reflect the population’s makeup by factors such as age, sex, education and race. In addition, the weighting took into account patterns of phone use — landline only, cell only and both types — by region.

 

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 4.2 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all adults in the U.S. were polled.

 

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

 

The questions and results are available at http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com<http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com/> .

 


 

AP-GfK poll shows voter distaste for Putin-style leadership
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a leader — unlike what we have in this country.”

But most Americans don’t agree with Trump’s assessment of Putin’s leadership skills, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

Only 24 percent of registered voters say Putin has leadership qualities that would be good for an American president to share, while 71 percent say he does not. In fact, a majority, 56 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of Putin, while only 10 percent said they view the Russian leader favorably.

 Voters were split on whether Trump would be too close to Putin, with 42 percent saying they think Trump would be too close, and 41 percent saying his approach would be about right. Fourteen percent think he would not be close enough.
By comparison, most voters (53 percent) think Democrat Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Putin would be about right, while 11 percent think she would be too close and 32 percent think she would not be close enough.

The relationship between the Republican nominee and the Russian strongman began taking on new life when Putin praised Trump last December as “bright and talented” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”

The billionaire businessman hailed Putin’s regard for him as a “great honor,” brushing off widespread allegations that the Russian president has ordered the killing of political dissidents and journalists.

“Our country does plenty of killing also,” Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in December.

Four in 10 Trump supporters and only 1 in 10 Hillary Clinton supporters say Putin has leadership qualities that would be good for an American president to have. Still, even among Trump’s supporters, just 16 percent have a favorable opinion of Putin. Only 5 percent of Clinton’s supporters do.

Marissa Garth, a 28-year-old stay-at-home mom from Smithfield, Utah, said she plans to vote for Trump this November because he exhibits the qualities of a strong leader — not to be compared with Putin.

“I think (Putin) is a strong leader for his country,” she said. “But at the same time I don’t think he necessarily has the qualities that I would want as a president.”

In fact, the poll finds that men are more likely than women to say that Putin has leadership qualities that would be good in an American president, 28 percent to 19 percent.

Among Clinton’s supporters, 69 percent say Trump would be too close to Putin. Forty-nine percent of those supporting another candidate share that view, but only 8 percent of Trump supporters say their candidate would be too close to Putin. Eighty percent of Trump supporters say his approach would be about right. Among conservatives, 20 percent say Trump would be too close to Putin.

There is nothing 54-year old Gary Sellers, of Homewood, Illinois, likes about Putin — or Trump. He called Putin a “dictator,” adding, “there are no qualities of his that I wish that an American president would have.”

A lukewarm Clinton supporter, he’s concerned that Trump shares Putin’s extreme views of governing. “I feel he has a dictatorial approach toward being president of the United States,” Sellers said of Trump.

Forty-seven percent of voters say they approve and 52 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Russia.

Voters are divided over whether the next president should take a tougher approach to Putin (42 percent) or whether the current approach is about right (39 percent). Just 16 percent think the next president should take a friendlier approach.

Just under half of voters (48 percent) say the U.S. relationship with Russia is a very or extremely important issue, ranking it low on Americans’ list of priorities, far below issues like the economy (92 percent), the threat posed by the Islamic State group (70 percent), the U.S. role in world affairs more generally (68 percent) and immigration (60 percent).

There’s a generational divide over Russia. Two-thirds of voters age 65 and over and more than half of those between 50 and 64 call the U.S. relationship with Russia very or extremely important, while only 4 in 10 30-49 year olds and only a third of those under 30 say the same.

Generally speaking, voters are more likely to say they trust Clinton than Trump on negotiating with Russia, 40 percent to 33 percent. Nineteen percent say they trust neither and 7 percent trust both equally.

John Eppenger, 68, a retiree in Fairfield, Ala., said that when it comes to dealing with Russia, Clinton would “do a much better job than Trump. She’s not perfect, she’s not ideal, but she’s better.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Majority of Americans fear Trump presidency

By JONATHAN LEMIRE and EMILY SWANSON

NEW YORK (AP) — More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries to overtake Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, most voters oppose the hard-line approach to immigration that is a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman’s campaign. They are more likely to trust Clinton to handle a variety of issues facing the country, and Trump has no advantage on the national security topics also at the forefront of his bid.

Trump undoubtedly has a passionate base of support, seen clearly among the thousands of backers who fill the stands at his signature rallies. But most people don’t share that fervor. Only 29 percent of registered voters would be excited and just 24 percent would be proud should Trump prevail in November.

Only one in four voters find him even somewhat civil or compassionate, and just a third say he’s not at all racist.

“We as Americans should be embarrassed about Donald Trump,” said Michael DeLuise, 66, a retired university vice president and registered Republican who lives in Eugene, Oregon. “We as Americans have always been able to look at the wacky leaders of other countries and say ‘Phew, that’s not us.’ We couldn’t if Trump wins. It’s like putting P.T. Barnum in charge. And it’s getting dangerous.”

To be sure, the nation is sour on Clinton, too. Only 39 percent of voters have a favorable view of the Democratic nominee, compared to the 56 percent who view her unfavorably. Less than a third say they would be excited or proud should she move into the White House.

“I think she’s an extremely dishonest person and have extreme disdain for her and her husband,” said one registered Republican, Denise Pettitte, 36, from Watertown, Wisconsin. “I think it would be wonderful to elect a woman, but a different woman.”

But as poorly as voters may view Clinton, they think even less of Trump.

Forty-four percent say they would be afraid if Clinton, the former secretary of state, is elected, far less than say the same of Trump. He’s viewed more unfavorably than favorably by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin, and more say their unfavorable opinion of the New Yorker is a strong one than say the same of Clinton, 50 percent to 44 percent.

That deep distain for both candidates prompts three-quarters of voters to say that a big reason they’ll be casting their ballot is to stop someone, rather than elect someone.

“It’s not really a vote for her as it’s a vote against Trump,” said Mark Corbin, 59, a business administrator and registered Democrat from Media, Pennsylvania.

Roughly half of voters see Clinton at least somewhat qualified, while just 30 percent say Trump is.

Even when it comes to what may be Clinton’s greatest weakness, the perception that she is dishonest, Trump fails to perform much better: 71 percent say she’s only slightly or not at all honest, while 66 percent say the same of Trump. Forty-nine percent say Clinton is at least somewhat corrupt, but 43 percent say that of Trump.

“Whatever her problems are, they don’t even come close to him,” said JoAnn Dinkelman, 66, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga, California, who will cross party lines and vote for Clinton. “Everything that comes out of his mouth that is fact-checked turns out to be a lie.”

Trump finds no respite with voters when it comes to what he vows to do as president, either.

Nearly 6 in 10 oppose his promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and only 21 percent of his supporters and 9 percent of registered voters overall are very confident he would succeed at fulfilling his promise that Mexico would pay for the construction.

Six in 10 believe there should be a way for immigrants living in the country illegally to become U.S. citizens — a view that Trump opposes.

“The wall isn’t the answer. It’s not feasible and Mexico won’t pay for it,” said Timothy Seitz, 26, a graduate student at the Ohio State University and a Republican. “We should be leaders. We shouldn’t cower from others and cut ourselves off in the world.”

Beyond immigration, voters say they trust Clinton over Trump by wide margins when it comes to health care, race relations and negotiations with Russia. She also narrowly tops Trump when it comes to filling Supreme Court vacancies, as well as another of the billionaire’s signature issues: handling international trade.

Trump is narrowly favored on creating jobs, 39 percent to 35 percent, while in general, voters are about equally split on which candidate would better handle the economy. Voters are slightly more likely to trust Trump than Clinton on handling gun laws, 39 percent to 35 percent.

Voters are closely split on which candidate would better handle protecting the country and evenly divided on which would better handle the threat posed by the Islamic State group. And Americans are much more likely to say they trust Clinton than Trump to do a better job handling the U.S. image abroad.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters plus or minus 2.7 points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com