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Most Americans see healthcare benefiting the needy

Most Americans see healthcare benefiting the needy

POSTED: Friday, March 19, 2010 - 11:37am

UPDATED: Thursday, April 22, 2010 - 3:46am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Most Americans believe the healthcare reform plan in Congress would help the poor and the uninsured, but say it would be less likely to benefit other groups including themselves, according to a poll released on Friday.

The March 17 Gallup survey of 1,009 U.S. adults, which coincides with President Barack Obama's final push for approval in the House of Representatives, also found large minorities of Americans who worry the legislation could make things worse for middle-income families and the United States as a whole.

Fifty-nine percent said the plan would help uninsured Americans, while 56 percent would expect a benefit for the poor.

But only 28 percent said they believe the Obama plan would help their own families, while 37 percent said it could make things worse for themselves. Twenty-nine percent said it would make no difference.

Forty-four percent said the plan could make things worse for the United States and middle-income families. At the same time, 39 percent saw a benefit for the country while one-third predicted legislation would help the middle class.

Gallup said the poll, which has a 4 percentage point margin of error, is consistent with earlier surveys that indicate a slightly negative pitch to public sentiment on healthcare reform.

Democratic leaders in Congress are trying to convince their wavering House colleagues that the U.S. public needs healthcare reform. The package is also viewed as a possible make-or-break milestone for Obama's legislative agenda.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told CBS that recent polling shows public support for the legislation, though an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggested this week that Americans are split with 46 percent in favor and 45 percent against.

"I'm very confident that when this bill is passed and people review what it's going to do for them, their families, small businesses and the deficit reduction it's going to bring, I think they're going to say yes, this is a good policy for our country," the Maryland Democrat said.

Gallup said its poll also showed that healthcare reform is a highly partisan issue even at the rank-and-file level.

While 51 percent of Democrats said the legislation would benefit the United States, 65 percent of Republicans said it would not make things worse.

Only substantial minorities of Democrats believe healthcare reform would help middle-income families (37 percent) and themselves (33 percent).

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